Archive for the ‘Children and Nature’ Category

Sitting on the Fence, The Hardest Place to Sit

30/11/2022

By Randall Richards
My son and I were down at the Lake Hawea waterfront today, at the dam, not far from Mountain Spirit, our home and retreat centre here on New Zealand’s South Island. We were fishing for salmon which have a habit of hanging around the dam this time of year in a vain attempt to swim downstream. That’s where the fishing is reportedly good, but we didn’t catch anything this day.

As we were leaving a fellow named Cliff drove up in rental car. He’s from California and, as I tend to do, got to chatting with him. Today is his first day here in New Zealand. As it turns out, he is a principle in a company called Abroad which leads executives and business leaders all over the world, teaching by experience, different ways to think about success and leadership other than the typical profit centered paradigm.

Looking for bass at Lake Hawea’s dam, New Zealand.

They have led trips to Peru, and Bhutan. They like to work with indigenous leaders locally wherever they end up taking their high-end clientele. I mentioned our little retreat centre to him, and also mentioned the domes at the Lake Hawea Campground and The Oasis as alternative retreat centres who could a bigger group such as his. I mentioned a bit about my background as a cultural and mountain guide in Peru, Outward Bound Professional, and the sort of activities we do at Mountain Spirit such as yin yoga, music studio and sweat lodges. He said he does all the hiring for the company, and this is a bit of a recon for future programs. He asked if his business partner and he could pop by Mountain Spirit for a visit this weekend. When he mentioned he plays guitar and sings, I even invited him to pop by our local Free Market at Leaane’s Camphill Coffee as I’d be playing there, and there’s sort of an open mic atmosphere. He could play a song or two if he was so inclined. We sent each other a text with contact details so we could be in touch over the next couple of days.

All was going quite well until he asked if I knew any Maori people in the area. I explained a bit of what, and who I know in the area, and then, he made the comment, “Oh we did have a Maori person on board our company, but he went a bit off the rails. It was very surprising to us, and we had to let him go because of the things he was posting on Faceboook.” When I asked if he could expound, he continued, “He went extreme right-wing on us, and was posting things about the vx and other stuff about conspiracies and government overreach.” Then, there was an uncomfortable silence.

We said our goodbyes after I had given him some suggestions on what to see and do here in the area for his afternoon in Hawea/Wanaka. Then just after he drove off, I happened to check the local Telegram chat channel, and came upon this post by “Man Alive”, whatever that is:

“For men, the hardest place to sit is on the fence.
Hoping, wishing, waiting for something to
change.

Let me let you in on a little secret..

“If you don’t change, nothing else will.”

Many men know this but spend years umming &
ahhring

Living a lukewarm, mediocre existence

When they know deep in their heart that they are
capable of so much more

They just need to get off the fence
They need to come alive again.”

Before reading that, I hadn’t really come up with a plan of action, but I had an inclination. But after reading that quote, I decided I’ll text Cliff and ask him for the Maori’s contact info. He sounds like am interesting fellow. I’ll send that text just after I post this.

Postscript: I had a good look at Abroad‘s website, and the vision as Cliff explained it, seems like a brilliant initiative, and I feel we’d be a good match, in a different world, I’m finding harder to go back to the way things were. I can’t unknow what I’ve learned over the past few years regarding the dangers of vx, the mandates, and how it’s not about health but power and control.
It’s extremely unlikely that this Maori fellow has gone off on some “right-wing tangent”. It’s more likely our new friend is parroting the media’s label of someone not following the MSM narrative. I know many “progressives” who are liberal in ideology, but only see madness in the current woke camp. I, for one, am grateful that the last few years have only strengthened my resolve to see the truth, and make no apologies about standing tall for what I see.

Being mandated out of public places changed our lives, and seeing the truth for what it is, forces the issue. It’s easier now, not sitting on the fence. My hat’s off to Cliff and his work. I would have liked to get involved with Abroad, but not at the expense of my values. Not only would it be a matter of time before he came cross my Facebook posts, but also, I could see this was, most likely, a dead-end. I’m on a different path and not looking back. I hope Cliff gives me that Maori fellow’s contact info. Who knows, maybe our paths have already crossed, at the Wellington protest, or we’re on some group chat. It’s a small world when it comes to truth these days.

Slowdown Post #15: Almond Harvest!

10/09/2020

During lockdown we had time to pick almonds. You don’t actually pick them, you use long sticks or PVC pipe, and wack them off the branches so they land on a tarp. Just don’t get hit as they fall. It hurts! Then the work of taking off the skin and cracking the shells begins. We’re still looking a good for a good almond cracker, so if anyone knows of one, let us know. Right now, we’re doing the cro-magnum technique of smashing them with a river rock. After they’re out of the shell, we’re ready to make almond butter, almond milk or even eat nuts! We have about 6 almond trees here at Mountain Spirit, and since the nuts keep well, unlike the sweet chestnuts we have, we’re able to enjoy them throughout the winter. @purenewzealand

Fulfilling our Mission, and Our Passion

15/08/2020

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Before lock-down, here on the South Island of New Zealand, we were quite busy renting out our accommodation to AirBnB guests from all over the world. We enjoyed meeting people from Italy to the US, from China to India. Since lock-down, we’ve been gettingIMG_8761 - Copy copy bookings from individuals and families here in New Zealand, who want a “digital detox”, or to reset their perspective on life. There’s a huge demand for going within, and reconnecting with one’s self, with others and with nature. Humbly, I think we do that well here at Mountain Spirit. We’ve been at it for a while and are excited to share our space and experience. Amanda offers wonderful and centering YinYoga classes. Randall offers re-connection through “solo’s”, sailing and other experiential activities. Randall worked with Outward Bound for many years, then a mountain guide in South America for Alpine Ascents International, leading climbers up peaks in Peru, Argentina and Ecuador and has landed in New Zealand. Amanda has studied yoga most of her life, and spent some months in India practicing and learning. She most recently has been training under Sarah Powers. Come join IMG_8794 copyus if you’re so inclined to dive into your inner world. We’re at mtnspirit.nz

 

 

 

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Slowdown Post #13: “Hayice” Climbing!

13/08/2020

20200513_120509 copyDuring lockdown Level 4, we eyed the farmer’s hay bales, the next field over, and received permission to take ice axes and crampons to them “as long as we didn’t tip any over on us”. It was remarkably realistic climbing except the occasional piece of straw in your boot and of course the warmth! Who knows, maybe it will catch on. It’s a great way to get a pump, and practice your skills. When growing up in New Hampshire, I took for granted the ice climbs that were 10-15 minutes’ walk from the car, Frankenstein Cliff’s in the White Mountains, come to mind, or smaller local climbs hidden in the woods near Sunapee. In New Zealand, you’ll need a full day’s approach by ski touring into Wye Creek, or Black Peak here in Wanaka to see any ice. No driving to the ice fall or belaying off the bumper here!

Lockdown/Slowdown Post #4

27/07/2020

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Using a rope ladder as part of the daily obstacle course. We added a new element every day.

It was clear early on,  that lockdown with a child at home from school, was going to require creativity.  We were going to have to come up with some activities. We decided to create an obstacle course by adding a new element every day. We started by taking some old climbing rope and making a rope ladder with alternate foot loops. Make sure you make the loops big enough so they’re easy to slip into, and not too far apart. It was surprising how much rope we used! #purenewzealand #lakewanakanz #wanaka #mountainspirit #kidsactivities #obstaclecourse #challengecourse

Mindfulness And Meditation To Become Part Of The Curriculum In 370 Schools In England

14/07/2019

By Fino Menezes
BrightVibes.com

i2In 370 schools across England, children will be taught how to meditate, techniques for muscle relaxation, and breathing exercises for mindfulness. The program is being conducted under a mental health study that the British government is running up until 2021.

Dealing with new and complex emotions can be mitigated by meditation and mindfulness.  When children act out by kicking and screaming, very often it is simply because they don’t understand. Read More….

Children need microbes — not antibiotics — to develop immunity, scientists say

17/06/2019

By Brandie Weikle
Special to The Star

20190617 Children Need MicrobesYes, it’s important to wash your hands. It’s critical during cold and flu season and especially if you visit someone at the hospital.The problem is — in the West at least — parents have taken the business of keeping clean way too far.
New science shows that blasting away tiny organisms called microbes with our hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps and liberal doses of antibiotics is having a profoundly negative impact on our kids’ immune systems, read more..

 

Another Example of Meditation in Action

07/06/2019

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Image Credit: hlfinc.org

By Holistic Life Foundation
School Sends Kids to Meditation Instead of Detention, with Amazing Results

Traditionally when children act up in school, they would get detention or they get suspended. An elementary school in Baltimore has a far healthier approach, read more…

For more info: www.hlfinc.org

Learning Presence from Wilderness

07/06/2019

Outward Bound recently published a piece entitled  How to Learn Mindfulness from the Wilderness. I’ve been meditating since my early teens, and grew up spending most of my after-school hours in the woods and mountains of New Hampshire and later working for Outward Bound as an instructor and staff trainer. I’d spend weeks and months in the backcountry without site of a car or airplane in stunning mountains. After a week, the students and I were just starting to adjust to the quieter pace. After two weeks, we were in the groove and were in no rush to return to “civilization”.  Teaching out there helped me see more of the quiet mind in myself, and in others. It was a moving experience to see others sink into themselves, the environment and to connect more with each other.  So read on.. and enjoy this wonderful piece on connection, mindfulness and wilderness.
It motivated me to start Mountain Spirit USA in 1989 and then Mountain Spirit New Zealand with my wife on the South Island.
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How to Learn Mindfulness from the Wilderness.
By Outward Bound Blog
On July 4, 1845, a 28-year old left his comfortable station in life and retreated to the woods. For the next two years, two months and two days, he lived in a cabin that he built himself, surviving on what he could gather with his own hands. His only companions were the books he brought, the birds on his window sill and the ruminations of his own mind. He lived alone and simply, recording his experience as he went along. His experiment was published under the title Walden and as you might know already read more…

In Support of Time Out – The Kiwi Way

22/01/2019

In a busy world where taking time off is a difficult thing, it may be the most important thing.

I come from the Northeastern U.S., where there’s a strong “New England work ethic”, where if you’re not busy, you’re not amounting to anything. OK, a slight exaggeration, but there is an expectation of achieving, of going to one of the Ivy League Schools, and getting a respectable career with benefits.  Instead, I became a mountain guide. After graduating from the University of Utah, and an early career in the ski boot business I took a sharp left turn into the mountains and never returned, except for leading corporate team building programs for Outward Bound for a few years.

I’ve been living in New Zealand for over 10 years but a few exchanges on the phone last week really rocked me. I finally got an unexpected peek into Kiwi psyche about healthy priorities, of balancing work and spending quality down-time with family and friends,  taking a time out.

We’re really busy during the summer holiday season here in the Wanaka area. We run an off-the-grid Secluded Sanctuary called Mountain Spirit, which includes a BnB. We’re ramping up to run health and wellness programs on our land, and we run Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters. So the Christmas season is full-on for my wife and I and our 7yr old son as well.

We decided to block off  a couple of days right after Christmas, and take an  overnight on the charter boat to Lake Wanaka’s Paddock Bay to unplug. The inevitable happened when we got a few inquiries during that time for boat charters. When I explained we were taking some much needed time off, despite the holiday season being our busy time, without exception the callers responded with, “Good on ya, you need to pay attention to that family and take that time off. We’ll check in with you later.” (Which they did). Correct me if I’m wrong, (you Americans, from the NorthEast), if you were the caller would you not be surprised that a vendor was taking time off, and wouldn’t you think he was expected to be open and available when you call.? Instead of the “Good on ya”,  if my memory serves, the first response would not be one of support, rather: “Are you sure you can’t be available for tomorrow”? or, “Why are you not open?”

It was an eye opener. Three separate callers actually took it in stride and said “Of course you’re taking time off, have a good one.”

Not to slam Americans or anything, but it’s almost a cliche at this point – And God love Americans for all that we are, but taking a slow long holiday is not one of them. The American system is set up for a two week vacation, max. And that does not do justice to the country in which you’re visiting. It’s a bit of an insult actually. 

Time off during the busy season

Spending time with family on the boat when our To Do list is growing. Damn the torpedoes and head out anyway.

The only way to get more time off from the American workplace is to quit, or set up a longer travel itinerary between jobs, or be a CEO. So we can’t find fault with individual Americans, or can we?  I’m not sure – all I know is I was surprised to finally experience being given permission to take time off. I’ve been conditioned not to take time off.  To have someone say “it’s OK”,  is a eye opener for an American.

For those of us that made recreation our jobs, and travel came with the territory, we were lucky enough to be exposed to different perspectives in the world. It’s not just the Kiwi’s who value taking time off , more than do Americans. Most of the world does.