Posts with tag: "plant hoarder"
Sunday, June 24, 2018
By MonaElisaPhotography
Pin It

Sunbaked cedar and pine

Dappled sunlight through the trees

A cool breeze whispers 

 

Delicate unfurling fronds

The forest sings to the sky

My heart comes alive

Shinrin meaning forest in Japanese, and yoku referring in this instance to bathing, showering or basking in. To bask in the beauty of the forest, or using my favorite catchword, to marvel. 

 

This is not about exercise but rather a meandering through the woods without a specific objective. The aim is to open yourself up to nature and to connect with nature via all of your senses. “Shinrin Yoku is like a bridge,” writes Dr. Qing Li. “…By opening our senses it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.” The rules (for lack of a better word): walk slow and let your body be your guide. There is no need for technology. Take your time. Breathe. It’s not about reaching a goal or a destination, it’s about enjoying the journey, feeling every single facet of the experience – the sights, sounds, tastes and the fragrance of the forest. To completely surrender to the moment and to your surroundings. To savor. 

Although nature has always been an integral part of Japanese culture, Shinrin Yoku was coined in the 1980s when the Forest Agency of the Japanese Government established a program to encourage the public to explore the natural wonders outside their densely populated urban cities. It was a call to bathe the mind, body and soul in the beauty of nature found in the forest networks of Japan. In addition to appreciating nature, it was also a cry to promote the health benefits of being in the forest. 

 

It was only in the 90s, where science was able to back up the benefits of Shnirin Yoku that the Forest Agency had initially advertised. Studies conducted by Dr. Yoshifumi Miyazaki of Chiba University in the forests of Yakushima found that physical activity (40 minutes of walking) in the forest versus 40 minutes of physical activity conducted in a laboratory improved mood and feelings of vigor. You may think, “Duh! That’s a no brainer”. However, what is interesting is that he was also able to measure lower levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) in individuals after being in a forest compared with those who took laboratory walks. This was the first clue that offered scientists a measurable difference between walking in a forest versus another environment. 

 

After this initial study, more research was conducted by Chiba University as well as other groups in Kyoto to evaluate physiological markers while subjects spent time in a forest. These studies confirmed that being in a forest setting can reduce symptoms of stress, depression and aggression by lowering cortisol levels and blood pressure. In addition, forest bathing was found to improve sleep and increase energy.

And just to tempt you even more into giving this a try, a study conducted by Dr. Qing Li from the Nippon Medical School found that forest bathing, whether it was for a couple of hours or over three days had a huge long-lasting impact on the health of his subjects. It is well known that any stress can compromise the immune system, especially the cells that are on the frontlines. Therefore, since forest bathing was proven to lower cortisol levels, should it not have an impact on the immune system as well? Li and his team began to explore this. They were able to measure spikes in the number of Natural Killer (NK) cells (the frontline cells that help fight disease), as well as, “increases in the functional activity of these antiviral cells, and increases in the amount of intracellular anticancer proteins…” Is this not fascinating? You can read the study here. 

For me, although I enjoy reading the research, I don’t need a scientific panel to tell me that getting out there is beneficial for my health or for my soul in order to go. 

 

One of our favourite places to explore (long before we knew anything about ‘forest bathing’) are the forests near Baarn in the Netherlands. They are spectacular. Less dense then the Canadian forests which I know and love, but equally beautiful. Full of oak, cedar, birch and pine, carpets of moss that make you bounce as you walk and landscapes filled with beautiful ferns that seem to go on forever. Dirk tells me that many of these forests began as man-made forests as the original forests had been cut down hundreds of years before.  Although, originally man-made, nature soon takes over and you have a plethora of incredible plant varieties, trees, fungi, animals, birds, flowers—so much to captivate the heart and senses. 

 

Two things captivate me the most: Firstly, FERNS. Give me #alltheferns. I can’t tell you what it is about them that enchants me so. Is it the repeated patterns? The lush greens? How their fronds start secretly beneath the surface of the ground and over time unfurl into intricate works of art? I could spend hours (and do) studying them. The second is the fragrance of the forest, especially after it has been basking in the sun for a few hours. How can I even describe it? It’s intoxicating in the best way. I can smell the glow of the earth, the freshness of the green, the coolness of the breeze, the warmth of the oils from the baked pine needles and with just a hint of dampness from the soil beneath. (As a side note, I’ve started using essential oils in the last year and I am determined to recreate the fragrance and wear it as a perfume so I can take the forest with me wherever I go.)

And for my soul… being in that marvelous and peaceful place, feeling the moss beneath my feet, the texture of the bark beneath my fingertips, the warmth of the sun on my skin, the flutter of a finch about to land on a nearby branch, the crunch of the pine and leaves, and savoring the aroma of that sacred sanctuary…there is no need for any scientific data to convince me that forest bathing is good for every aspect of our beings.  

 

That’s why I am so passionate about bringing nature indoors. We cannot always escape to the forest to find the solace or comfort that we need, but we can create our own sacred space (read more HERE)  full of what gives our soul life and peace in our own home, or in a corner of our office, or right in our living room. Printed on the most beautiful torchon paper and with archival inks, our fine art prints may not give you the fragrance of the forest, but they can remind you of all the peace, tranquility and life you felt there. My friend describes our work best, “…like windows into another world.”  

 

I encourage you, to get out there and explore the beautiful natural world around you…and even try a little Shinrin Yoku for yourself. It may take time and practice for you to quiet yourself down but it is well worth the effort and your mind and soul will thank you for it. You can view our Shinrin Yoku guide down below: 


Make sure to check out our web shop for beautiful fine art botanical prints to adorn any space you call your own. Let nature in with us! 

 

Want more? Stay up to date, connect with us and be part of our nature-loving, adventure-seeking, and obsessed with all things botanical community! Subscribe hereOr follow us on InstagramFacebook or Pinterest.

 
Sunday, November 26, 2017
By MonaElisaPhotography
Pin It

A couple months ago we announced that our ‘lil team was sprouting. Well, our lil’ sprout is here! It has been just my husband and I for the last 12 years, and now it is unbelievable that we are now 3. 

 

So, let me introduce you to Ethan Oak. We chose the name Ethan because it means strong, optimistic, solid, and enduring. We chose Oak not only because oak trees are symbolic of strength, might, beauty, and highly revered in folklore and mythology. But also, based on the verse found in Isaiah 61:3. It’s a beautiful passage full of hope, and we pray that Ethan Oak will grow into his name and be an oak of righteousness in a turbulent and unsure world.  

We are beyond grateful for all of our families’, friends’, and readers’ warm thoughts, prayers, and support. Ethan Oak was born October 18th. He was 8.3 lbs! Birth and delivery was nothing short of miraculous. Contractions began October 16th at around 1PM. After consistently having contractions for 5 hours we thought he was arriving that night. However, Ethan needed much more time. After 2 sleepless nights with intense contractions ranging from 2 to 10 minutes apart, the midwives decided to break my water in the early morning of the 18th, and we soon held Ethan in our arms!! We are so thankful we were able to have Ethan born naturally at home, and our midwives were incredible and so wonderful. 

 

I marvel at just how miraculous our bodies are made, and how they can create, sustain and push out a tiny human life. 

Nature knows exactly what to do whether it’s how our bodies function or how plants grow and bloom. Every season evolves into the next in utter beauty from spring to summer to fall to winter. It doesn’t need to be ordered or instructed, everything opens itself up to the elements and surrenders itself to the unfolding of life.

 

I came across this quotation a few months ago and it is so apt as the chill of winter is approaching and the last leaves descend and return to the earth. Every fall,” the trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.”  

I want to encourage you that if you’re going to through a tough season in your life, there is reason enough to raise your head in hope. There is much beauty to be discovered (or rediscovered) all around you… even in the process of letting go. Sometimes the things that we hold on to most tightly are the very things that are weighing us down, and stop us from enjoying what is right in front of us.

 

Currently, I am learning to be an expert in letting go with this new little one... especially of sleep, but so so so many other things too. And it’s absolutely worth it.

 

It’s in art to celebrate in the ‘letting go’. 


We love to celebrate the wonder of nature here, as I’m sure you’ve already noticed.  And we have a couple of happy announcements!

 

We launched three new mini collections in our shop just in time for Christmas. Each collection comes with a set of two beautiful fine art prints that complement each other perfectly: Tropical Reverie, Fern Fractals, and Arid Daydream. They are each sized 20cm x 30cm or 8in x 12in. They are a gorgeous pair and at a special price for the set.  

Furthermore, we are so happy to announce that we've been able to reduce our flat-rate shipping costs for Canadian, American and UK customers (HALLELUJAH!!) and still offer the same exceptional delivery service *insert happy dance*.  Our state-of-the-art fine art printers in Germany estimate 10 business days for both printing and delivery to North America.

 

We also released a November gift for you and are offering a free phone wallpaper to take you back to lazy sunny summer afternoons for those -20/-30 Celsius days (shout out to Toronto)! You can download your free gift here. Feel free to send us a screenshot of your new wallpaper in use via Instagram

What are you in the process of letting go?

Want more? Stay up to date, connect with us and be part of our nature-loving, adventure-seeking, and obsessed with all things botanical community! Subscribe hereOr follow us on InstagramFacebook or Pinterest.

 
Friday, March 10, 2017
By MonaElisaPhotography
Pin It

Marvel.

 

I love that word.

 

It’s what you do when you come into contact with something or someone that is extraordinary. It evokes admiration and astonishment. It also nurtures a sense of curiosity and pure enjoyment. It means your heart is captivated and you are filled with wonder. It’s both a ‘something’ that impacts the way you see and feel, and an action that makes you pause, admire and reflect.

 

I’ve always carried a hunger to explore the world around me. In my earlier years, I usually attempted to cram as much as humanly possible so as not to miss out. As I’ve matured, I’ve slowed down and tempered to the utter relief of my husband. My curiosity and hunger remain however, I’ve learned (and continue to learn) how to enjoy life at a different pace.

 

 I’m learning to marvel. 

When we moved to the Netherlands two years ago, I had assumed it would be a grand adventure. Challenging, of course, but nothing I couldn’t handle. I was wrong. For the first year, I was inconsolable. From a bustling multicultural metropolitan city awake at all hours to a small town where you were lucky if you saw 3 people on the street at one time on a Friday night (I have video proof). From a rich and diverse community of family and friends to zero friends. Add to that not being able to work, a different language, a different culture and the unending grey and rainy weather … let’s just say I was unraveling ;)

 

There’s two types of noise that can feature as our companions. The one I had been used to in Toronto was that of external noise. The one that says, “You CANNOT stop. Pick up that phone. Fulfill your obligations. Make sure to respond NOW. Don’t forget to do this. You MUST do that.”

 

Then there is internal noise. This companion I was familiar with and I know her well.  But without all the external noise, her decibel increased by astronomical proportions. As I battled all the internal noise and loneliness I was experiencing, there came a point where I just couldn’t listen to that voice any more. 

 

I was hungry for a different voice. 

What I discovered? There was beauty all around me and if I could just stop and let myself be captivated by it, it could offer some relief. If I could open myself up to it, to know it and be known by it, I could find some peace from all the negative voices and noises I was constantly hearing. This beauty may have looked and sounded different than what I was used to, and it may have even not been to my taste at times but it was and still is beautiful, worthy of being appreciated and precious.

 

See, to marvel, is to take your eyes off of yourself, off of your problems, and off of all the voices that bombard you whether external or internal. It asks you to be still, to pause, to admire and to wonder. And in that moment, it’s just you and that extraordinary vista, or that tiny bud about to burst with color, or your best friend’s laughter in full force, or how the breeze makes your curtains dance in the afternoon light.

 

To marvel is to be fascinated by a wonder and a beauty that transports you to another state of mind where all you can do is be captivated.  This is what my heart hungers for. Not the busyness or the to-do lists but those quiet moments of awe that feed my soul, inspire my senses, and ground me again.

 

And this is what I hope to inspire and offer to others as we forge into a new direction at monaelisaphoto. We want to inspire you to marvel again at the beauty of nature, and the details of the world around you. 

What makes you marvel?

Want more? Stay up to date, connect with us and be part of our nature-loving, adventure-seeking, and obsessed with all things botanical community! Subscribe here. Or follow us on InstagramFacebook or Pinterest.