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The New Year has arrived in grand fashion. It is well noted as the time of year when we make resolutions to reach various goals. Many make commitments to exercise, lose weight or change unhealthy habits and lifestyles. Others strive to reach monetary goals and perhaps get out of debt, once and for all…if that’s even remotely possible of course. My resolution each year is always the same…to get out in the woods more often and explore…I simply couldn’t survive without it.

Dawn of a New Year

Dawn of a New Year

I have always been deeply moved by the writings of David Henry Thoreau and John Muir. One of my favorites by Thoreau is…“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

All of us enjoy the time we spend in Nature, but have you ever really considered why? I think it’s because…”we ARE Nature.” Too often, I believe, we look at Nature and the Environment as being somewhere “out there,” separate from ourselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. We’re all made from the same building blocks. Plants provide us with oxygen and in exchange, we emit carbon dioxide. It’s a perfect relationship. With that in mind, the fact that 61% of our genes can be found in the common fruit fly and 35% in a daffodil should come as no surprise. It’s all part of God’s plan. We are truly ALL connected…and that’s a beautiful thing!

We’ve all heard and read numerous well documented stories of people with various illnesses and disorders that have seemingly been miraculously… Read the rest of this entry »

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Winter Wonderland !!

The beginning of Winter is just a few days away and I’m excited about the outdoor opportunities it offers. The Moon is waning at the moment as we move toward the beginning of Winter this Sunday, the 21st. After a beautiful Fall I welcome the changing weather. With the leaves off the trees, it’s a great time to explore your favorite patch of woods. Animal sign is easy to interpret, as their trails and runs are very visible this time of year. It’s truly a great opportunity to learn about your woodland neighbors.

Much of the East coast experienced a poor crop of Acorns this year. I could hardly find any in my woods and I’m sure our local squirrel and deer population have been affected by the lack of food. I read recently that some scientists fear the shortage may affect squirrel and deer populations as a result. Indeed, I have noticed that the population of squirrels on my property seems to be less now than last year, and I’ve seen a few that were uncommonly small. Since acorn production runs in cycles though, it’s not that uncommon to have lean year after a year of abundance. Perhaps next year will balance things out. We did however experience a good year for Black Walnut and Hickory nuts. Both are absolutely delicious, though it is a bit tedious to extract the nutmeats. I find it well worth my effort .

Numerous species of migrating birds have been… Read the rest of this entry »

Tyson Foods, the world’s largest meat processor and the second largest chicken producer in the U.S., has admitted that it injects its chickens with antibiotics before they hatch and then labels them as raised without antibiotics.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has told Tyson to stop using the antibiotic-free label, but the company has sued for the right to keep using it.

Poultry farmers regularly treat chickens and other birds with antibiotics. But scientists have become increasingly concerned that the routine use of antibiotics in animal agriculture may accelerate the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.tysonchicken

After Tyson began labeling its chicken antibiotic-free, the USDA warned the company that such labels were not truthful, because Tyson regularly treats its birds’ feed with bacteria-killing ionophores. Tyson argued that ionophores are antimicrobials rather than antibiotics, and are not used on human patients. Tyson suggested a compromise which was eventually accepted by the USDA — they would use a label reading “raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans.”

Tyson’s competitors: Perdue Farms Inc., Sanderson Farms Inc. and Foster Farms sued, and in May 2008, a federal judge ruled in their favor and told Tyson to stop using the label. Not long after, USDA inspectors discovered that in addition to using ionophores… Read the rest of this entry »

Corn Syrup’s New Disguise

According to the Corn Refiners Association, high-fructose corn syrup contains the same amount of calories as cane and beet sugar, is metabolized by the body the same way as these sweeteners are, and is an all-natural product.116cornusa

Their current ad campaign insists that high-fructose corn syrup is just like honey, which is made by enzymes in a bee’s abdomen — as opposed to the enzymes and acids in centrifuges, ion exchange columns and liquid chromatographers used to make high-fructose corn syrup.

High-fructose corn syrup could be all-natural, if cornstarch happened to fall into a vat of alpha-amylase, soak there for a while, then trickle into another vat of glucoamylase, get strained to remove the Aspergillus fungus likely growing on top, and then find its way into some industrial-grade D-xylose isomerase.

High-fructose corn syrup is indeed similar to cane sugar in that it is about 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. The American Medical Association issued a statement explaining that “high-fructose syrup does not appear to contribute more to obesity than other caloric sweeteners” … but they also said… Read the rest of this entry »

Fall is by far my favorite time of year in North Carolina. The changing of the season and beautiful foliage is always inspiring. One of my absolute favorite things to do this time of year is to go tracking. Exploring the woods and wild fields throughout this area is fun…and, with most of the leaves off the trees it’s easy to see the lay of the land.

The Splender of Fall

The Splender of Fall

Animal trails and sign are much more visible now and become a major point of interest for me. I can spend hours interpreting their tracks and trails and never get bored. All the animals have such an intimate knowledge of their environment and seem to move through it so effortlessly. I’m always fascinated by what I discover on my hiking and nature excursions. Perhaps most importantly, I’m reminded that I need to explore more often…don’t we all?

“My experiences in nature always seem to ground me and smooth out any stress that I may have accumulated during the week”…

All of us love to spend time in the woods and hiking is a favorite weekend activity for many of us. This area has many hiking opportunities. The Palmetto Trail is close by and F.E.N.C.E has numerous trails to explore. Let’s face it – we all need to get outside more, and not just for the exercise. I believe that being in nature is important and helps promote a healthy… Read the rest of this entry »

DID YOU KNOW?

Autumn Olive (elaegnus umbellata) berries contain up to 17 times more lycopene than tomatoes? Lycopene has powerful antioxidant properties. These wild berries make an excellent jelly and are available right now!!

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