Way of Council + How You Can Use This Ancient Way of Communicating to Improve Your Life

What is council?

"Council is an age-old practice that involves bringing people together in a circle to bear witness and share authentically. Participants agree to speak one-at-a-time, sharing their personal stories and experiences, rather than opinions, and listening non-judgmentally while others do the same. Sharing and listening to universal stories about love, loss, fear, triumph, challenge, hope and other experiences enables participants to recognize that, despite our many differences, we have much in common.

By fostering attentive listening and authentic expression, Council builds positive relationships between participants and neutralizes hierarchical dynamics formed by the inequality of status, race, or other social factors. It supports a deep sense of community and fosters recognition of a shared humanity and interconnectedness.  It enables individuals to give voice to their stories, develop mutual respect, cultivate a compassionate response to anger, defensiveness, and violence, as well as strengthen emotional health and  resilience.”     ~ Center for Council 

My Experience

Council has become a intricate part of who I am and how I operate in the world.  I was part of many councils while going through my forest therapy intensive training week and I can tell you just being a part of it of one is a life-changing experience. The ways in which you learn to listen, with compassion, for each and every person—listen to understand, not to respond, is something we don’t come across in modern society.  

_Compassion arises naturally when we listen with respect and express ourselves honestly with an open heart, whether it be in words, song, movement, or silence.” _ The Way of Council.png

Questions to Get You Started

The Way of Council is an extraordinary book about council and how you can use it to benefit your life.  I’ve taken notes on some of my favorite questions, from the book, to start council.  

What are you grateful for in this moment?

What are your expectations of our time together?

What brought you this circle?

How would you describe the “tribe: or “tribes” to which you belong - racially, culturally, ethically, and/or spiritually?

What experience, skill or aspect of yourself do you bring to this group as a gift right now?

What is going on in your life right now? How does that connect with why we’ve come together?

Can you tell a story about one of your grandparents, aunts, uncles, mentors—whoever comes to mind?

Can you tell a story about something completely unexpected that happened to you recently?

What feeling, pattern of behavior, or aspect of yourself do you want to let go of right now?

What is it about a group that makes you feel more trusting or less trusting?

What is something that bothers you about me?

What is something you appreciate about me? 

Share your Experience

I would love for this post to become a resource with many people sharing their experience with Council. I invite you to share in the comment section below and we can learn from each others experiences! 

Have a beautiful day ♥ 



Ted Talks provide powerful and impactful messages with ways you can take action and make positive changes to your life NOW.  Below, I've linked my favorite talks with some of the most influential thought leaders of today.

The Power of Vulnerability 

Brene Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love.  In a poignant, funny talk at TEDxHouston, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity.  

Your Elusive Creative Genius 

"Eat, Pray, Love" author Elizabeth Gilbert muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses -- and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius.  It's a funny, personal and surprisingly moving talk.  

 My Year of Saying Yes to Everything || Shonda Rhimes

The legendary Shonda Rhimes created the TV hits Gray's Anatomy and Scandal, and is involved with three or four network series every season. That's a lot of work, and when it's going well--when she feels engaged and enthusiastic and at her creative peak--she calls that "the hum." But one day the hum stopped, and try as she might, she couldn't get it to start again, she explains in this deeply honest talk. Rhimes was bereft. But she was also a single mother who'd promised herself to say yes to everything asked of her that year. So when her toddler asked her to play as she was on her way out the door, instead of leaving she said "yes" and stopped to play for a while. And she promised herself that from then on, if humanly possible, she would stop and play whenever her children asked her. (As she points out, any child will get bored in 15 minutes or less, so it wasn't a schedule-crusher.) It was a great thing for her family, and to her surprise, by taking the time to play for a few minutes with her children, Rhimes brought the hum back to her work, as well. It's a great lesson for our overworked, overcommitted, always-in-the-zone times.

Questioning the Universe 

Professor Stephen Hawking asks some big questions about our universe -- How did the universe begin? How did life begin? Are we alone? -- and discusses how we might go about answering them.

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek presents a simple but powerful model for how leaders inspire action, starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers -- and as a counterpoint Tivo, which (until a recent court victory that tripled its stock price) appeared to be struggling.

The Puzzle of Motivation

Career analyst Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories -- and maybe, a way forward.

Why I Go Barefoot?

If you've been keeping up with my blog you notice a sneak peek into my soul with each entry. My goals, my values and my vision are written on each line. This entry is no different. Barefooting/earthing/grounding is a part of who I am and I want to share this with you.

 This is a picture of me barefooting at High Falls Nature Conservancy this past May, 2017. Barefooting goes beyond time at the beach or hanging out in your house or backyard, it's creating a connection to the Earth, ground and the life force that exists all around us and sustains our life. It's actually a relatively simple concept and pairs well with minimalism.

I did a computer search and from surveys done and reported by Huff Post and the New York Daily News, the average American woman owns about 19 pairs of shoes. Can you imagine life in a tiny house with 19 pairs of shoes? I can't!

 I want to show you some of the reasons I choose live a barefooting lifestyle and you can see if it's something you might try.

Why Do It - Mental Health Benefits

Connection to the earth - called earthing/grounding is a result of barefooting. The power from the force of your feet planted on the earth is one that is difficult to describe. Take a minute, wherever you are and take your shoes off, strip your feet of these artificial bonds that preclude you from knowing what is truly under your feet.

Right now I feel the packed dirt and grass cradle my toes, the balls of my feet and my heels. I close my eyes and can quickly focus on this primal connection. In a moment I feel an ant or some other insect travel across a set of toes which creates an unconscious wiggle of my toes and an immediate smile on my face. This connection is one that’s instantaneous but only because I am consciously grounding. It’s wonderful how I feel  when I take time to engage with the Earth in this way, the benefits of a clear-mind and calmness.

When you walk with naked feet, how can you

ever forget the Earth?

Carl Jung

Why Do It - Physical Benefits

A quick answer is, shoes are harmful to feet. Results from researcher Dr. Phil Hoffman found when comparing feet of those in developing countries (who as a rule don’t wear shoes) to those of people in a 1st world country (almost always wear shoes). The feet of those in the developing country did not have foot, hip or back maladies that were present in those of the 1st world nation. Hoffman goes so far to say wearing shoes ‘cripples’ children (p. 111) since it changes the shape of their foot in the formative stages. Surprised? This definitely rocks the foundation where it’s a ‘normal’ practice to have a closet full of shoes. Barefooting can keep you from experiencing pain - who wouldn’t want that! Why would you choose to experience pain, take medicine and possibly have surgery? No thank you. (Sorry to those podiatrists who would soon be out of work if we had people en masse embrace the barefooting life.)

Walk as if You’re Kissing the Earth with Your Feet.

Thich Nhat Hanh

The ‘Signs’  Say

You’ve likely seen signs that have the presumption of a legal foundation because they include some version of “By Rule of the Health Department...Shoes Are Required”. This is not only misleading but inaccurate. Letters from the Health Departments for 49 states are included here which show an unchanging American cultural norm that put up these signs in direct reaction to the Hippie Counterculture Movement in the 1960s.  

The Law Says

OSHA does require footwear for employees - not customers (Society for barefoot living). The signs you see are the preference of the stores/restaurants and are not mandated by the law. There are very strict footwear requirements for those who work in kitchens/food service, public safety and health care, for example. If you decide to embrace a barefoot lifestyle you will undoubtedly be met with questions, glances and perhaps be asked to leave. You have options - choose to conform (put on shoes), take your business elsewhere or engage in a discussion.  Barefoot is Legal suggests carrying a Health Department letter with you and showing it to the manager or store owner.

Options to ‘Pass’

Another choice is to attempt to ‘pass’ with a footless shoe option. There were 364 choices when I searched for “footless shoes” on Amazon, there are some on each page that were footless tights or for kids but the majority were options for adult women. I clicked on a few and noticed they had a much longer mailing time because they are handmade (who wouldn’t want something custom/handmade, I love this!). Supporting artisans is a great reasons to wear these as something that will help you ‘pass’ in a store/restaurant for folks who don’t look too closely.

The reason there are so many options is quickly clear in the title of many of these options that have the word “bridal” - totally acceptable if there’s a beach wedding. A norm to want to have some adornment on your wedding day and perfectly accepted practice not to wear shoes on the beach.

I Like to Walk Around Barefeet &

I Don’t Like to Comb My Hair

Beyonce Knowles

Can Barefooting Be Mainstream?

This barefoot movement isn’t only found in a small subset of the population. Joshua Reeves, the CEO of a $1 Billion company, uses a shoeless policy as part of his leadership style which is met with very positive feelings and results in a ‘family feel’ at the office. Reeves incorporated a practice from growing up in a house where shoes weren’t allowed inside to the workplace and it’s resulted in a positive workplace benefit (Adams, 2016). This should prove to be a model for other organizations to try and see how it could work for their workplace culture.

American culture is often slow to make changes (i.e. The existence of those 'no shoes, no service' signs) especially when it becomes so ingrained and people start to believe it is grounded in the law. Bottomline, bare footing isn't illegal, but it is something that can be frowned upon when you go out in public. I hope that you - like me and those who take the time to learn all the health benefits of being unshod and embrace your right at home and in public. Do not feel compelled to wear shoes because an arbitrary sign says so - follow your heart and live your values, it may not be easy at first but you will reap the many benefits.  

There are so many other components of barefooting this just scratches the surface. I hope to have a follow-up post and delve into this in more detail. As always I'd love to hear your story. Share it with me here. Enjoy every step of your bare footing journey!


Adams, B. (2016, March 4). Joshua Reeves of Gusto: Directing without dictating.


Barefoot is legal (2017, February 17). http://barefootislegal.org/

Hoffman, P. (1905). Conclusions drawn from a comparative study of the feet of the barefooted and shoe-wearing people. In Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. Pp. 105-136. http://www.bsmpg.com/hs-fs/hub/52884/file-5411032-pdf/docs/1905hoffman.pdf

Society for barefoot living (2017). http://www.barefooters.org/health-codes-and-osha/

(Note check out this link for the link to letters from your state’s health department stating barefooting isn’t a health department mandate!)

Book Review & Notes: Unshakable by Tony Robbins

Who is Tony Robbins?

     Tony Robbins is a world-renowned author with 6 internationally best selling books.  He has also empowered 50 million people from 100 different countries through is audio, video & life training programs.   

About the Book!

“After interviewing fifty of the world’s greatest financial minds and penning the #1 New York Times bestseller Money: Master the Game, Tony Robbins returns with a step-by-step playbook, taking you on a journey to transform your financial life and accelerate your path to financial freedom. No matter your salary, your stage of life, or when you started, this book will provide the tools to help you achieve your financial goals more rapidly than you ever thought possible.”

Important Notes from the Book. 

The market has a pattern; it never stays down forever.  Your greatest potential lies within the bleakest hours. 

A correction happens approximately once a year. 

A bare market happens ever 3-5 years

Market lows are nothing to be afraid for they are full of potential and possibilities. 


The Playbook – Core Four “Rules” to Follow

1.    Don’t Lose – How can I avoid losing money?

2.    Asymmetric Risk/Reward – Your rewards should outweigh the risks

3.    Tax Efficiency – Is it net (after tax) or Is it gross (pretax)

4.    Diversification – across different asset classes, within asset classes, across markets, countries, currencies and time. 

LOW COST INDEX FUNDS – US stocks, International stocks, emerging-market stocks, real estate investment trusts, long-term US treasuries & Treasury inflation-protected securities. 

CONSIDER: Owning 15 unrelated investments’ reduces risk by 80%

ASSET ALLOCATION – never want to be forced to sell when stock are down


Bonds = loans

         Federal government = treasuring bond

         City, state, country = municipal bond

         Company = corporate bond

         Less dependable company = high-yield bond


What asset classes will give you the highest probability of getting from where you are today to where you need to be?

-       how much you are willing and able to save

-       how much money you’ll need

-       when you’ll need it

** a 7% annual return over 15 years is great**

1.   Asset allocation drives returns

2.   Use index funds for the Core of your Portfolio

3.   Always have a cushion

**never underestimate the awesome power of disciplined saving combined with long-term compounding**

Advice – rebalance once a year – 60% stocks & 40% bonds


Can I get disproportionate rewards for the least amount of risk?

What’s he potential upside & what’s the risk on the downside?

Where are the breaking points for other investors?

When will the price get so low or so high that they will get out?

What’s the entry point? Where are your stops?

What don’t I know?

Where could I be wrong?

What am I not seeing?

What am I failing to anticipate?

Who else can I speak with to deepen my knowledge?


Want More Freedom?: Embrace the Digital Nomad Life

Ever heard of the term digital nomad? The Urban Dictionary, derives income remotely and online, rather than from commuting to any office" Seem a lot like telecommuting to you? Sort of! Let's check out the rest of the definition, "...the digital nomad [doesn't] need a permanent home base, and she/he can travel anywhere at any time" (Urban Dictionary). Who's up for that life? ME!!!

Combining a minimalist lifestyle goes perfectly with being a digital nomad. Low expenses (thanks in part to my tiny house) I have the ability to spend what I made on experiences instead of monthly cable bill, for example. Digital nomad and New York Times Best Selling Author, Tim Ferriss details this effortlessly in his 2009 book, The 4-Hour Work Week: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere & Join the New Rich.

Ferriss talks about the digital nomad life and how he's achieved it and provides a prescription for you to as well. There are a few main points, passive income and freedom to do what you want which may include travel while you work or it may include being able to work from home to be a more active parent or caregiver. Whatever it means to you!

Similar to minimalism - there are some key foundational tenets but it's not prescriptive - you can fit it into your life how you want it. You can be the degree of digital nomad you want to be to reach your goals and embrace the freedom that Ferriss describes paired with 'lifestyle design' which seems like a no-brainier in the common sense department.

A little on Ferriss' background, this Yale graduate took a nontraditional path after graduation (took a year off before finishing) that led him to create ways to design passive income for himself as he tried sharing these strategies with others. There were many skeptics but after having some small scale successes, his first book 4-Hour Work Week hit the NY Times Bestsellers list in 5 days and that catapulted him as the go-to expert on the digital nomad life. In addition, Ferriss has other best selling books that provide life hacks (in the flavor of the nomadic lifestyle) on fitness/health, cooking and most recently a book that captures Tips from the best of 200 interviews he's done on his Podcast: The Tim Ferriss Show.

Another digital nomad is Marsha Wright. She was able to semi-retire in her 20s and at 32 is living the life she always dreamed living part of the year in Asia and having the ability to visit her native England whenever she wants. Her success was born from designing a life of mutually beneficial 'collaborative economy' which is also the title of her bestselling book.

Currently, Wright is leveraging her influencer status on Twitter to solidify the weekly #ThinkBIGSundayWithMarsha movement which shares positive/inspirational messages to the entire world. This occurs every weekend and individuals are invited to share quotes of success, positivity, motivation, inspiration that will uplift others as they add in the #TBS hashtag. Providing the tweets aren't self-promotional, religious or offensive they are Retweeted into Wright's (@marshawright) network of 566k and growing followers. While I haven't personally participated in this movement, I may check it out to see the power of this trending movement of positivity to connect with more likeminded individuals.

Wealth is the ability to full experience life.    ~ Henry David Thoreau

Steps to Becoming a Digital Nomad

FREEDOM (who doesn't want that?) and as Ferriss describes it the ability to be present-focused and realize that success/fulfillment are the products of having the time & mobility.

So, first you need to determine the life you want to have. Using something like Nomad List can help you identify the ideal place (if travel is in your plan) to move to in the short or long term. Nomad List is a pay resource and it takes into account key items like internet speed, temperature and cost of living as it ranks cities around the world for digital nomads. Even if a city ranks 'low' on the list it still may be right for you depending on your goals and budget.

Second, you need to determine what skill set you have and how you can make money while being a digital nomad. Check out the Resource links I've put together that have job leads for Digital Nomads. This takes a lot of time, as each site will have you create a profile and in some cases upload previous work in a portfolio. Getting work from these sites are just one way to generate project leads for yourself.

Another way is developing solid profiles on social media that focus on your skill set and attract leads or drive folks to your website is another great way. Social media is something you can do with no monetary cost (at least in on the major platforms, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn). The cost to developing your social media presence is your time. Pick the one or two social media platforms that your potential customers are on and work on developing a solid following that includes your work product/offerings and tips with motivational, inspirational, and/or humor (whatever fits your personality/industry).

The universe desires you to have everything you want to have.     ~ Napoleon Hill

The focus of developing your profiles should be with your goals in mind. If you want to live in Costa Rica for 3 months determine the costs, what your savings can cover, insurance, and how to 'wrap' up things in your life to allow you to meet your obligations while living a happy digital nomad life. It defeats the purpose of going to Costa Rica for example, if you aren't able to address these concerns in advance, unless your idea of freedom is living in the local economy. That could present other problems - what are the local laws about an expat working, would you be able to secure legal employment if you are up against locals, would that sustain your lifestyle for 3 months?

Joining other digital nomad communities like Couch Surfing or searching Hostels and Airbnb are other ways to find economical ways to live where you want. As Ferriss outlines, the need to travel is not a requirement of a digital nomad. It's about the freedom of your time and mobility. Being able to go on vacation (let's say you want to stay home-based somewhere) and still being able to work, make money and support your lifestyle. Living your plan to meet your goals is key!!

You don’t have to be rich to travel well.     ~ Eugene Fodor

To recap, here are the steps to living a digital nomad life 1) Live smartly (minimalism, is great in my humble opinion); 2) Determine how your skill set can sustain your life (start profiles on boards like Fiverr); 3) Figure out where you want to go (this will determine what you need to earn per month); 4) GOAL time! (Set a plan) and 5) Executing the plan (work your plan everyday to get enough work to sustain the life you want so you have the freedom you desire).

I'd love to hear about your digital nomad dreams and successes. We can all learn from each other so post a comment or hit me up on social media (Badass Vegan Apparel, Personal IG). Here's to me living the digital nomad life of my dreams and you living yours!

The secret to a rich life is to have more beginnings than endings.     ~ Dave Weinbaum


Blog Sources

Digital nomad. (2017). Urban Dictionary.  http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Digital%20Nomad

Ferriss, T. (2017). Podcast - The Tim Ferriss Show.


Wright, M. (2017). #ThinkBIGSundayWithMarsha Twitter movement. http://twitter.com/marshawright (Note: The ‘movement’ is only LIVE on the weekends)

Digital Nomad Resources

Communities for Digital Nomads Couch Surfing Digital Nomad Community Nomad List

Job Leads on Fiverr  FiverUp Fourerr  Gigbuck$ SEOClerks tenrr Upwork  Zeerk

Productivity Hacks with Qlock   Shorten URLs  

Share Your Work as you Travel

join.me  Livestream  WeTransfer  

[Disclaimer: I’ve received no money or services in exchange for listing sites in my blog. Listing a site does not give it my endorsement. Most job lead sites charge a fee to the seller (aka digital nomad)]

Throw It Out - It’s Just Stuff: Embrace Minimalism

Living a minimalist life isn't a new concept. It's been around since the beginning of time, probably economic necessity lead to minimalism for some but for others is a deliberate choice. It's a focus on being mindful with the possession you have in your life. These days you can think of it in broad terms as a focus on "collecting memories not things". But what exactly does minimalism as a lifestyle mean?

Being a minimalist seems to be ‘in vogue’ with the barrage of bloggers and authors writing minimalist challenges and hacks. For example, Courtney Carver came up with Project 333 to simplify her life (specifically her closet) and it went viral. The notion is wear 33 pieces (including accessories) in 3 months. She was able to successfully pair these items so no one at her job was able to notice. Carver obviously took time to choose these items and plan how they would be worn. This is evidence of being mindful & deliberately execution of a minimalist lifestyle. Picking the items based on the need (her job) and what would make her feel good

There is no hard and fast prescription of minimalism, Carver makes her minimalism work by pairing down her closet which helps her live her life as a minimalist. Her rules, her way. I love this! Take note, minimalism encompasses possessions that make YOUR life feel complete/right not something that someone dictates to you as required/not allowed. It’s a very personal practice.

Live simply so that others may simply live.     ~ Elizabeth Ann Seton

In the Netflix documentary, Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things follows the duo of Joshua Fields Milburn & Ryan Nicodemus, who at this point have written 3 books on the subject capture what minimalism is in their book tour. The journey to minimalism was born out of a rock bottom of personal lives - crumbling family relationships. So the men re-evaluated their hyper-focus on careers that had become all consuming and furthered a culture of artificial culture of consumption.

The benefits of minimalism are too numerous to capture in a short blog post so I’ll give some of the highlights.

Reduced Footprint

Living in a smaller space - a tiny house in my case - allows you to take up a smaller footprint. In addition, it provides more affordable housing for more people. This reduced carbon footprint (a great benefit for the environment, yeah!) means I'm taking up less room on the earth than if I were to have a 500 square foot apartment where I'd only use half or less than half of the physical space. My tiny house for example has exactly the number of rooms/square footage I need for one person. I do not have space I don't use, I have: a bedroom that has a desk where I do my writing, a bathroom, a kitchen/storage area and then a living room space which doubles as a workout area/spare room.

Reduced Debt

Being a minimalist should leave you with less personal debt since you have fewer possessions. My tiny house is paid off because I planned out exactly what I needed and used materials and labor that were (donated in some cases) and within my budget. I didn’t need to leverage a line of credit that I would never be able to pay back like many mortgages. Not just with my tiny house but with fewer possessions, I am able to live within my means and even create a savings! I am not focused the consumerism (shopping) simply to acquire additional items - rather I focus on collecting memories not items. I work very hard to not get wrapped up in the popular culture of consumption for the sake of consumption. My possessions have a specific purpose not just to take up space.

Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication.     ~ Leonardo daVinci


One of the biggest intangible benefits of being a minimalist is the freedom it provides. Without having credit card debt and a mortgage hanging over me, I am able to live my life with a sense of direction to spend my time how I want. Working when I want to so I can live not living to work. It's a very freeing notion to incorporate my work (BeMoreBadass) into my minimalist lifestyle.

As more people embrace the notion of minimalism it will allow us as a society to offer more affordable housing to more people (reduced homelessness and reduced debt). This could make a huge positive impact the U.S. economy.

The simplest things care often the truest.  ~ Richard Bach

Physical Benefits

Less debt should also lead to a reduction of stress induced physical and mental ailments. This would have an exponential impact on how people feel about themselves and how they interact with others. When you take minimalism and compound the impact across a significant number of people it has the possibility for gigantic life-changing benefits.

Is a minimalist lifestyle right for you, only you can answer that. It's a lifestyle of deliberateness in how you allocate your resources and a focus on living your life not a focus on acquiring "stuff". I would encourage you to check out the resources and see if incorporating minimalism into one aspect of your life like Carver did could work for you.

Reach out and let me know what aspect of your life you are trying to embrace minimalism and how it goes for you. I'd love to share the journey with you. Also, if you have any questions about how I make minimalism work as I live in the world (I'm not isolated) I'd love to share more about that too.

Bottom line, many of the things you have around you are just things and probably don't directly add to fulfillment of a quality life for you. Throw out the stuff and be deliberate in the things you have in your life.



Carver. C. (2016). Project 333: Simple is the new black.


D'Aveila, M. (Director). (2016). Netflix: Minimalism: A documentary about the important things https://www.netflix.com/title/80114460

Website of the subjects in the Netflix documentary:

Fields Milburn, J. & Nicodemus, R. (2016). The Minimalists: Tour my minimalist apartment.


Read more about how mindfulness/deliberate choices are part of our brains functioning/evolution here:

Nelson, R., Ph.D., (2016). The practical neuroscience of lasting happiness, love & wisdom. http://www.rickhanson.net/

Forest Bathing: A Practice of Mindful Healing


The ancient Japanese were the ones who originally embraced and noted the value of communing with the forest with the term 'shinrin-yoku' or translated as 'forest bathing' and more commonly called forest therapy.  An alternative to the Western traditional medicine where you’d seek out a medical doctor and meet them in an office with walls - forest therapy is a guided experience under the canopy of trees with the ground beneath you.  

As I take you on this journey through forest therapy I'll use the guidelines of a forest therapy Invitations provided by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.  Let's take this journey into forest therapy together, I'll act not as a guide (that would require training by ANFTG) but as an interested co-participant and learner in the process.

Why would you want to do forest therapy?  

Like me you are probably a person who finds more comfort in nature than in being within the confines of 4 artificial walls with a ceiling that obstructs your view of the stars. Perhaps you are intrigued in getting 'more' from your time in nature and want to experience some of the many documented health benefits from practicing forest therapy. Me too! Adam Atler wrote a piece in The Atlantic about the medical benefits of indirect forest therapy on patients recovering from surgery who merely had a view of trees versus a view of a brick wall. If merely looking at trees can improve recovery time imagine the possibilities for improved health & wellness by walking/sitting and just being (aka "sit spot") with the trees can provide. It's limitless and very exciting to think about!

Adopt the Pace of Nature: Her Secret is Patience.     ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

One of the wonderful (non-medical) things about being in the forest among the trees is the lack of gear required. There are no special clothes or shoes and nothing ‘extra’ you need outside of a willingness to listen to the trees and leave your 'life' behind as you open your mind to the forest therapy experience. Enough talking about it, let's walk through it with a few of the forest therapy Invitations suggested by the ANFTG before you go seek a guide and go on a trip yourself. 

The first Invitation is 'Shake Off the Road Dust' which is as it says, leave your baggage outside the forest. Similar to preparing for a relaxing bath at home and you remove the literal baggage (your clothes) that cover your body so you can be at one with the water/bubbles. As you start forest bathing you will be deliberate and make the time you set aside for it just that, time in the forest bathing your entire self.

Screen Shot 2017-05-28 at 7.58.08 PM.png


Another suggested Invitation is the ‘Pleasures of Presence’ which directs participants to create a spirit of mindfulness at the start that lays the foundation for a meaningful experience in the forest. Similar to when you practice yoga, it's important to just "be" not focus on the outside world but focus on that moment, starting with this minute through the end of the forest therapy. In that state of mindfulness you will create/develop an awareness for the sight of the site, the softness/harshness of the sounds, the pungent/fragrant smells and the soft/hard earth where you step, among others.

With enough practiced mindfulness in forest bathing you may become in-tune with proprioception you "...perception of movement and spatial orientation” within your body. Proprioception isn't the goal or will it happen with everyone regardless of how long they practice forest therapy but it can be a happy unintended consequence of a deliberate practice. Becoming more aware of how your body rests, moves and reacts to stimuli has many implications for a personal journey of reflection and wellness.


As you practice forest bathing you engage your senses in that moment, let your eyes not just look at the forest and all that's within it but really see what's there. This is something that when a guide directs you you get verbal cues to engage with your eyes which stimulates your other senses.  Medical research acknowledges the existence of a sixth sense in about 1% of the population called Synethesia where one of our senses "...produces an automatic involuntary perception in another" (Flaherty, Harvard Medicine, 2014). Try it for yourself and see if a smell can trigger a feeling in another sense as you take in what the forest has to offer in that moment.


Whether you want to see the physical benefits of forest therapy or engage in an additional way of being more mindful and communing with nature in another way you will be changed the next time you take a walk among the trees if you take the time to let them speak.

I'd love to hear about your forest bathing experiences so we can learn from each other. A closing Invitation is ‘Thanking the Forest’ which I'd encourage you do to every time you are in nature. I hope you want to engage in this practice with me even though it's from a distance so we can all develop an additional respect for just being in nature in this way that we allow the trees and all that provides them life and lives among them. I’ll end with a thank you to you for going on this mindful journey with me and learning more about forest bathing/therapy.



Alter, A. (March 29, 2013) How nature resets our mind and bodies. The Atlantic. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2013/03/how-nature-resets-our-minds-and-bodies/274455/


Association of Nature & Forest Therapy: Guides & Programs (2016).  http://www.natureandforesttherapy.org/


Flaherty, PhD., A. (2014). Uncommon sense: Synethesia helps the brain luxuriate in metaphor. Harvard Medicine. https://hms.harvard.edu/news/harvard-medicine/uncommon-sense

Should An 18 Year Old Go to College?

     Before we ponder over one of life’s biggest decisions, for a young adult, it is important to appreciate the fact that we have the freedom and ability to choose.  Somewhere right now someone is battling with their parents to understand their desire to not go to college and somewhere else, a college education is the only chance they have for a better life, they put their life on the line to pursue it.  Gratitude is always the first place to start, grateful that we have access to college as well as other educational learning opportunities outside of college. 

To go or not to go, that is the question. 

     As you ponder your decision, you will hear things like: college prepares you for the “real world,” it guarantees good-paying jobs, it gives you credentials and authority that “real world” experience doesn’t give you.  What prepares you better for the “real world” than being part of it?  A college degree does not guarantee a good paying job, just ask the 44% of American college grads that are underemployed (based on a study in 2012 but it is speculated that the percent has grown significantly in the past 4 years.)  How does a college degree give you more authority in a specific area than 4 years of real world experience?  And we haven’t even talked about the financial side of things.  I guess you see where I stand, but college is for some people. 

You Should Go to College if?

     You are absolutely sure of what you want to do and a college degree is necessary, i.e. a lawyer, doctor, etc or if you are completely unmotivated, claim to have no passions and you know if you take time “off” you will do nothing productive. 

Now for the Rest of Us

     “You don’t have to be a genius or a visionary or even a college graduate to be successful.  You just need a framework and a dream.”  ~ Michael Dell

     As Michael Dell states, you don’t have to be a mastermind or even talented at any given subject, but you do have to be able to fail, to put yourself out there time and time again and most importantly, learn from your mistakes.    

     We are beginning to see more opportunities outside of the traditional path after high school.  We have options; we can start a business using YouTube, Word press, Facebook, etc, if we are interested in healing or caretaking, we can intern or volunteer at a hospital or nursing home, if we want to travel, not only is it much cheaper than college but you can also join with a charity to cut down costs or you could go to trade school, the opportunities seem limiteless.    

     In United States, graduates have more than 1.1 trillion dollars in student loan debt with an average of about $30,000 per person.  It’s easy to get caught up in college life and end up completely out of touch.  If you want to run your own business, it is much more valuable to try and fail than to go to college for 4 years and end up $30,000 in debt.  Statistics show about half of the unemployed are college grads.  In our changing times, college doesn’t make sense for the majority of us. 

     “I didn’t go to college at all, any college, and I’m not saying you wasted your time or money but look at me, I’m a huge celebrity.” ~ Ellen DeGeneres

     The list of famous celebrities that don’t have a college degree is long, but to name a few:  Steve Jobs, Michael Dell, Richard Branson, Dave Thomas, David Green, Larry Ellison, Kevin Rose and Raphael Ray.  If you want to read more about their stories, which I recommend, 8 Hugely Successful People Who Didn’t Graduate College is a fantastic read. 

Learning What You Want

     It’s important to become good at identifying what you are interested in and what types of experiences or trips would best benefit you and your dreams; make lists, envision where you want, who you want to become and most importantly ask questions.  Question everything, when you just blindly accept something that society tells you as truth, that’s when you know you need to step back and evaluate more, ask questions and be open to the possibility of change. 

It’s Up to You

Ultimately, you need to do what’s best for you.  But don’t be so quick to say you can’t do it; there are many options for you and people who are whiling to help. 

     “The value of a college education is not the learning of many facts but the training of the mind to think.” ~Albert Einstein

How do you create the life you truly want?

Is everything you want attainable?

Two years ago, I wouldn’t have answers to these questions; two years ago I was headed down the traditional path, college, career, family, career, retirement, etc.  This was all I thought I wanted.  But that was the issue, I never thought I could have more.  If you can’t imagine and think about more, you will never have more. 

What Exactly Changed?

I began visualizing opportunities and projects that I never imagined could ever be my reality.  The more I spent thinking about it, the more I began to realize how attainable everything I truly wanted is. 

Must You Obsessive Over Something To Attain It?

My family would argue that I was obsessing over building a tiny house for two years before any real progress was made, but when it’s your idea and vision that you are “obsessing” over, you won’t see it that way.  You believe in yourself, it’s as simple as that.    

So How Do You Do It?

You dream, you brainstorm, you create lists of ideas, you envision the life you want,  You create vision boards.  You speak as if you already have the position.  You act like you drive the car.  You educate yourself as much as possible.  You tell everyone you can about your vision.  You journal.  You accept all opportunities that come your way and know that they are the universes’ response to the vibrational frequency/vision you are putting out.


***if you are interested in delving deeper into this topic, check out the free documentary THE SECRET on YouTube***