Some invitations for difficult times

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Orange-pink birch bark gives us color while we wait for spring wildflowers. John Boyd Thacher (North) State Park, April 2020

In this time of hunker down and keep to ourselves, I was wondering what I could possibly do to use my skillset for the community. Pretty immediately, I was surprised by a phone call. 

Last September, I led a forest therapy walk for the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy at Strawberry Fields Preserve in Amsterdam, NY. (I will write about this experience—and soon—I promise!)

Carrie, my contact at MHLC, asked:  Could you lead a virtual hike, and what might that look like?

In response I created two short meditations modeled on the invitations we offer in forest therapy. One is for folks who cannot go outside and one is for when you go out for your daily healthy walk for fresh spring air and long leg movements—or whatever suits you and your body.  Kids can use them, too.

You can play the recordings on your device inside or outside.

https://mohawkhudson.org/virtual-hikes-and-lessons

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Mosses and lichens glow in the woods, too. So many shades of green! John Boyd Thacher (North) State Park, Perimeter Path.

September 2019 Forest Therapy Guided Walks

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Notice the bridges–from where you are to where you want to be. YMCA Camp Chingachgook, Pilot Knob NY

Welcome to the season I call Fading-Summer-Into-Fall, which can be a pretty wonderful time to start or continue a nature practice, to feed your spirit as we move into the more internal times of fall and winter. This year it happens to be when I offer the most forest therapy walks in one month!

I plan to update this website soon with photos and meditations on the walks I did over the past two years and information about any later fall and winter offerings. Thanks for your patience and interest.

Upcoming forest therapy walks:

Saturday, September 7, 2019, 9 am to noon.  Celebrate International Forest Bathing Day with a free walk with Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy at Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve, Amsterdam NY.  Wander the woods and edges of a working farm in the glow of clover and goldenrod. Only a few spaces left. Sign up here:

mohawkhudson.org/events/

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To walk a path, slowly, patiently. Strawberry Fields Preserve, Amsterdam NY.

Friday, September 13- Sunday September 15, 2019. Women’s Adventure Weekend at YMCA Camp Chingachgook, Pilot Knob (Lake George) NY. 

I never went to sleep-away camp, so this feeds a whole ‘nother side, allowing the kid in me to truly “play” in a new way. I LOVE this weekend.

I will offer a forest therapy walk on Saturday morning, and there will be a wonderful array of Camp For Grownup Women activities over the weekend. Delicious meals (the chefs are great with dietary modifications), lodging and most activities included in a beautiful historic/rustic camp environment. Starts Friday night through Sunday lunch.

Along with the walk and opportunities to play in the lake (swim, paddle sports), women can do camp activities. In the past they’ve offered wood-burning, tie-dye, beading, ropes course, exercise classes, movie-themed trivia and costuming opportunities (this fall it’s “Mamma Mia”/ABBA), archery, guided hikes, and way way more. Activities are all optional; you could just sit around and read or daydream while looking at the lake. Take a relaxing, invigorating weekend away!

Non-YMCA members $235, YMCA members $225.

Sign up here:

camp.cdymca.org/retreats/women/

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What do you want to reflect on? The wetland path at Camp Chingachgook, Pilot Knob, NY

And finally, Saturday September 28, 2019, I’ll be doing a forest therapy experience at the Kweilyn Taylor Survivor Retreat, “Anchored in Hope,” for women and men survivors of cancer, held at Wiawaka Center for Women in Lake George and sponsored by Saratoga Hospital. The event is free and registrations are currently closed but they do maintain a waiting list, as last-minute cancellations are expected. Information, including the phone number, below.

www.eventbrite.com/e/kweilyn-taylor-survivor-retreat-anchored-in-hope-tickets-51514469164#tickets

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What new beginnings do you seek? Sunrise over Lake George, NY..

Thank you for your interest in Nature and Forest Therapy. Happy September!

Weedy Woods and Flowers: A Exhibit

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Ahh, the joys of a day job. It can keep you from other pursuits and goals, and yet feed you heartily on the way–as well as financially supporting those pursuits and goals.

For the past year and  a half, I have been building my day job life, and with this November, I am returning here to offer regular reports on my business, and on my writing blog to share new essays, poems and photography (OfTheEssenceBlog.com) which will be updated soon!  Thank you for your patience, and I look forward to sharing the walks I have been offering on a smaller scale, and exciting plans for the future.

Meantime, here’s what I’ve been up to recently–the reception is today, November 4, and the exhibit will be up all month.

Weedy Woods & Flowers:
valuing the tiny
and overlooked

Photos, Writings, Other Media
Diane Kavanaugh-Black & Carole Fults

For the month of November, 2018

William K. Sanford (Colonie) Town Library
629 Albany Shaker Rd, Loudonville NY

Opening Reception
Sunday, November 4, 2018
2-4 pm
Viewing hours:
Monday – Thursday 9 am to 8 pm,
Friday 9 am to 6 pm
Saturday 9 am to 5 pm
Sunday 1 to 5 pm

Sanford Show Flyer 2

Forest Therapy Experience at Hope Club Garden: Thursday, July 20, 2017, 6-8 pm

 

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On the night of my introductory talk this early June, rain gushed out of the sky, pooled in the streets, and alternated dark and light, heavy and sprinkling. A small group gathered around the cozy kitchen table at Hope Club in Latham, New York, and shared our deep experiences of nature, along with what science tells us about the healing effects of the natural world.

Because of the cooler temperature and the storms, we stayed indoors and sank our senses into photos of nature. Over pizza and salad, we talked about how being in or even thinking about the outdoors moved us–from thoughts of illness or anxiety to the “blessings of blooms and butterflies,” as one participant put it.

The scary and rushed sensation of getting to the building through rush hour traffic and bad weather faded; somehow, we became more ourselves.

It was decided, unanimously, I’d return to Hope Club to do an actual walk-experience, and this will happen in their beautiful garden on Thursday, July 20, from 6 to 8 pm.  Again, the evening is free, some food will be provided, but please pre-register with Hope Club, (518) 220-6960, or through the Contact Us tab on this blog.

*Programs with Hope Club are open to ANYONE whose life has been touched by cancer, not just patients or family members.

This announcement is cross-posted on my writing blog, OfTheEssenceBlog.com 

July 20 FTG Experience, Hope Club (updated)

Forest Therapy Guiding Talk at HopeClub: Monday, June 5, 2017

I understand this is a late announcement, but my new day job has kept me from social media almost entirely.  Please pass this on to anyone you think might be interested.

The American Cancer Society’s local HopeClub in Latham offers programs “for anyone whose life has been touched by cancer.”

This free evening presentation/experience includes dinner, so please RSVP to me and I will get the word to them you are joining us!

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“The Forest is the therapist; the guide opens the door.”

An Introduction to Nature and Forest Therapy

Monday, June 5, 2017, 6 to 8 pm The HopeClub, One Penny Lane, Latham

Unplug.

Breathe with clouds, trees, water, flowers.

Come, live in the untamed world for a while.

Do you feel intuitively that being outdoors in nature can make you feel better or centers you?

Have you heard about Japanese shinrin-yoku, or “forest bathing,” and wondered what it might be like to experience? Would you like to know more about this scientifically researched restorative practice and try it for yourself?

Diane Kavanaugh-Black, Nationally Certified Forest Therapy Guide, yoga instructor and local writer, will talk about what a Guided Forest Walk is, what it isn’t, and why you might participate in one! We’ll try it out with a short nature invitation and then together choose where Diane will lead a full Guided Walk this summer for HopeClub.

 

HopeClub Ask the Expert Forest Therapy 06-05-17

Forest Therapy Walk August 21st

At the minimum, I had hoped for a lovely day among the shady apple trees, next to the pond and tiny bubbling stream–even out on the hot July grass. As we slowly moved past water lilies and the nodding raspberry bushes, then shared in a circle later, the morning expanded into an even larger and more important experience for everyone, far beyond what I had hoped for.

This is some of what the participants shared after my first forest therapy walk in July:

[I have] become more aware of the small and large beauty around us, and the greater possibility and actuality of greater PEACE.

You would only be helping yourself [to do a walk]; you have to disconnect to reconnect.

Wonderful for helping you take yourself to another level of mindfulness…

I am calmer. Slowed down. More peaceful.

Won’t you join me on Sunday August 21 from 10 am to 1 pm in Troy on the next walk?  

It’s FREE. (More information below and in the pdf flyer.)

****Use the Contact Us tab above to register for the event.*****

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NATURE & FOREST THERAPY WALK

SUNDAY, AUGUST 21, 2016, 10 AM TO 1 PM

at a six acre private residence in Troy NY

Led by Diane Kavanaugh-Black: Forest Therapy Guide, yoga instructor, local writer & photographer

This introductory walk is FREE, though donations will be happily accepted.

**Forest Therapy is a series of guided sensory invitations into a deeper connection with nature, that takes place in state parks, nature preserves, arboretums, gardens and private spaces. Light hearted and yet potentially profound, the approach slows us down and opens us to possibilities.

**Forest Therapy allows individuals and groups to experience the healing effects of the outdoors and is accessible to everyone, regardless of age or physical condition. The walks are generally under a mile and on easy terrain. No special knowledge or background is needed.

**Nature and Forest Therapy is a research-based restorative practice which comes out of Japanese shinrin yoku or “forest bathing.” Among other benefits, it has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and increase immune function. You may have seen recent articles in the Washington Post, Yoga Journal, USA Today or U.S. News & World Report, or on National Geographic Explorer channel.

**Further information and links to scientific research and media reports about Forest Therapy can be found at the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs .

08-21-16 Forest Therapy Walk flyer

Forest Therapy Walk in July

Mandala: bird's foot trefoil.

Mandala: bird’s foot trefoil.   ~~ Let nature do the healing.~~

Here is the first of the promised summer walks in upstate New York, and a .pdf to pass on to anyone who might be interested.

July 22 Forest Therapy Walk flyer

**Please indicate your interest through the “Contact Us” link at the top of this site, and more information will follow.**

Light over the water: breathe in the calm.

Light over water: breathe in the calm.

NATURE & FOREST THERAPY WALK

FRIDAY, JULY 22, 2016    10 AM TO 1 PM

at a six acre private residence in Troy NY

Led by Diane Kavanaugh-Black: Forest Therapy Guide, yoga instructor, local writer & photographer

This introductory walk is FREE, though donations will be happily accepted.

**Forest Therapy is a series of guided sensory invitations into a deeper connection with nature, that takes place in state parks, nature preserves, arboretums, gardens and private spaces. Light hearted and yet potentially profound, the approach slows us down and opens us to possibilities.

**Forest Therapy allows individuals and groups to experience the healing effects of the outdoors and is accessible to everyone, regardless of age or physical condition. The walks are generally under a mile and on easy terrain. No special knowledge or background is needed.

**Nature and Forest Therapy is a research-based restorative practice which comes out of Japanese shinrin yoku or “forest bathing.” Among other benefits, it has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels, and increase immune function. You may have seen articles in the Washington Post, Yoga Journal, USA Today or U.S. News & World Report recently, or on National Geographic Explorer channel.

**Further information and links to scientific research and media reports about Forest Therapy can be found at the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs .

 

Nature Art Show in March at Emma Thacher Center

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“Swizzle stick,”on the Red Belly Snowmobile Path, Partridge Run; more photos from this trail are in the Thacher Nature Center show.

On Saturday, March 5, 2016, from 1 to 4 pm, I invite you all to visit Emma Treadwell Thacher Nature Center, 87 Nature Center Way, Voorheesville NY for the opening reception of their 13th annual Nature Art Show. I have three photographs in the show–come and enjoy them, at the 50 artist celebration, nestled in the center next to Thacher Lake. The opening reception includes live music and refreshments, and there are trails to walk outside near the nature center or back at John Boyd Thacher State Park (don’t miss the escarpment overlook!).

The show runs through March 25 and the Center (free admission!) is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 to 5.

Directions: If you approach from John Boyd Thacher Park on 157 (off 85/New Scotland Road), you will drive THROUGH Thacher Park, take a right on 256 (Ketcham Road), pass the small Farm Stand on the right, and soon after take a left on Nature Center Road (small sign for Nature Center), which is gravel and leads to the parking area & center.

Nature Photography Show, about Partridge Run, at Bethlehem Library

Photo in the show: "First, Center Yourself: Ox-Eye Daisy, unopened," July 2014

Photo in the show: “First, Center Yourself: Ox-Eye Daisy, unopened,” July 2014

Hello all. The project I have been concentrating on in lieu of workshops the past six months has bloomed in its first public venue.

My hiking partner Carole Fults and I are working on a series of books about the natural areas near Albany, NY, beginning with Partridge Run Wildlife Management Area in Berne.  Below find the announcement of our exhibit at Bethlehem Public Library in Delmar, NY (south of Albany). The show runs through December, in the lobby; there is also an exhibit by a local printmaker and collage artist (link to follow) in the entryway.

Since Bethlehem Library does not have accommodations for formal receptions, I will be at the library for two informal opportunities to ask questions while you look at the photos:

Sunday December 13, from 12:30 to 2:30, with a short talk at 1 pm

Tuesday December 15, from 5 to 7 pm, with a short talk at 6 pm.

Getting to Know Pickerel Ponds photo show flyer

Move with Mindfulness returns April 25 & 26!

The path was clear to the Welcoming House, and its meditation room.

The path was clear to the Welcoming House, and its meditation room.

January snow sparkled beautiful and peaceful, the days and evenings glowed, and we wrote. Downy woodpeckers, chickadees and white breasted nuthatches nibbled at the feeders; other small creatures burrowed into the white. We stretched, we wrote.

White breasted nuthatches reminded us to eat when we needed.

White breasted nuthatches doing their work.

We woke our bodies gently on yoga mats, we wrote, we ate and laughed and took a hike, churned our minds, churned our muscles, loosened both, and wrote.

Time expanded and we got work done. (A personal meditation on how that process went for me, entitled “Essay Tangles and Snarls,” can be found at my writing blog, here .)

Busy, busy little critters burrowed through the snow, before our boot prints even got there.

Busy, busy little critters burrowed through the snow, before our boot prints even got there.

Now I invite you to an affordable spring weekend, one day or both, opportunities to stay overnight if you’d like. End of April, there should be wildflowers in the woods, warmer air in the sun, the pond defrosted, the labyrinth uncovered. And writing to be done!

Details below.

April wildflowers: remember them?

April wildflowers: remember them?

 

Move with Mindfulness, Write with Ease

Saturday & Sunday April 25 & 26, 2015

One Day or Two Day options available.

10 am to 4 pm each day

Come and experience how movement can assist your writing and self awareness in a relaxed environment, with periods to write built into the day.

This workshop-retreat offers an excellent opportunity for work on a new or ongoing project (e.g. fiction, memoir, poetry, personal journaling), or just give you quiet time away, as we experience spring! in gorgeous upstate New York. You can attend Saturday, Sunday, or both days.

Where is it being held? Still Point Retreat Center is a small-scale, homey/comfy retreat center with a spiritual emphasis, in Stillwater NY, very close to the Saratoga Historical Park, 30 miles north of Albany.

You can commute to the workshop or stay at Still Point.

How much will it cost? $59/1 day, $118/2 days, including options to experience a yoga class, learn stretches and self-care for writers, do a labyrinth walk and/or hike (weather permitting) along with other moving meditation, while supplied with noshes throughout the day. Limited income participant $29/ 1 day, $58/ 2 days.

Included each day in your workshop fee: healthy & tasty breakfast foods in the morning, tea and coffee over the day, home made soup for lunch. If you are staying over, dinner will be shared potluck and the evening will be free time (ideas: write, visit with others, rest, walk on the grounds or read).

Overnight accommodations are a separate charge and should be arranged directly with Still Point. Visit the Still Point website here for pictures and information about the cabins & rooms and to sign up for housing. In conjunction with this retreat, you can opt to stay over Friday, Saturday and/or Sunday nights, depending on what rooms are available at the time you book your accommodation with Still Point.

How do I sign up for the workshop? We keep this workshop deliberately small so it is advised to sign up as soon as you know you’d like to come. First, let us know you are attending and which days, through the Contact Us page on this website, and second, mail a check to Of-the-Essence Holistic Wellness, P.O. Box 1344, Troy NY 12181 or contact us for cash payment options.