It’s National Wildflower Week!

Three yellow cactus flowers in New Mexico to celebrate National Wildflower Week

Wildflower season is in full swing, so be sure to get out there and enjoy the colors and scents!

May 2-8 is National Wildflower Week! I only found out yesterday, thanks to a scan of the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center’s Instagram feed. (blush). It does make for a nice kick-off to the 2016 Wildflower Wednesday season, 😉 .

Here are some great botanical gardens, arboretums, and nature centers offering events and programs to celebrate:

The dates for National Wildflower Week vary by geographic climate band, so you may want to check with some of your local arboretums and gardens to see what’s going on in your area.

How will you enjoy your local wildflowers this week?

Happy New Year: Inner growth or outer goals?

Amaryllis flower buds symbolize growth and hope for the new year.

A bulb contains inside itself all the energy it needs to grow into a beautiful flower.

2016 is off to a big bang, at least in my studio! Another painting module has begun, I’m in the research phase for two art history papers, and tomorrow I go to the natural history museum in Albuquerque to examine and draw a pine borer beetle for the Native Tree project.

Busy, busy, busy!

Has the new year started off at great speed for you, too?

At the start of every year, I usually take some time to share my goals or hopes for the year ahead and make suggestions for interesting reading about goals and resolutions (see here for 2015, for 2014, for 2013, and for 2012.)

It seems to me that the most easily achieved goals are external ones. They are easy to accomplish because you can directly measure them, put them on a schedule or deadline. They are concrete. You either lost 10 pounds or you didn’t. You threw out your old paperwork and organized your office, or it’s still messy. You went to the gym 3x a week, or you stayed home and watched tv.

Etc, etc.

But what about internal goals?

This year, I realized that I need to do some deep growth work on my inner self, both physical, mental and spiritual. In December, I was at a doctor’s office for my shoulder and neck injury, and he said, “What you do now for fitness in your fifties is what will set you up for good health in your sixties, seventies and late old age.”

I realized that his statement didn’t just apply to my body, but also my soul.

All those mental mechanisms that each of us has to defend ourselves from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune get stronger and more automatic as we age. They get so powerful that finally they don’t work anymore! Instead of helping us cope, they hinder us from thriving!

What do we do then?

  • We have to abandon our old crusty forts of self-defense.
  • We must learn to observe reality without inserting our old interpretive filters.
  • We need to re-connect to others and allow ourselves to be open to the moment instead of responding to the past.
  • We have to grow.

The problem is, that growth is very hard to quantify. It’s impossible to be 10 pounds happier! You can’t do 50 patience crunches every morning before work. 😉

Inner growth is an easy goal to abandon because it’s hard to see progress. But sometimes, you need to change so you can be easier and freer as you move into the next stage of life.

So my mantra for 2016 is, “Heal within.” I want to heal my shoulder, my brain and my heart. I want to be able to be fit and strong inside and out for a happy old age.

What is your vision for this brand new year of 2016?

Warmest wishes for happiness and health to you all in this New Year!

Some birdwatching tips

Improve the odds of seeing interesting birds on your hikes.

Not all birds are as cooperative as a mourning dove at a bird feeder! Photo by the Wrenaissance Man.

My tally for the Great Backyard Bird Count was embarrassingly paltry—2 American robins. Hardly worth uploading the results to the website. The towhees, flickers, and pestilent red finches that are usually hopping about our house and yard were nowhere to be seen. Even the ever-present ravens made themselves scarce during my designated 15-minute observation period.

Of course, I had forgotten one of the cardinal rules of birdwatching: Go out when the birds are most active. Here are some tips on how to observe more birds, if you were like me and have a hard time seeing birds when you go out hiking or walking:

  • Go out when the birds are most active. Generally, that’s just before sunrise and sunset. Those awesome videos of starlings flying in formation? They were nearly all shot near sunset, as the flock was looking for a roost for the night.
  • Look where birds like to feed and water. Trees and bushes that bear fruit or nuts attract hungry birds. Puddles after rain showers are popular for bathing and drinking. Or you can set up a feeder and birdbath in your backyard.
  • Be willing to sit quietly in one spot for a while. Our human tendency is to talk loudly and move around suddenly. This makes birds nervous. Try just siting and looking around, allowing the birds to get comfortable and start acting naturally again.
  • Learn the different songs and calls of the birds you want to see. You would be amazed just how many more birds you can identify once you learn what they sound like!

Resources:

Now that birdwatching season is starting to heat up, these websites are a great source for info and advice.

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