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Get up-close and personal with wildlife
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Find out how to feel the true essence of Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Free City Walks around Seattle
Save the date
for our next walk on October 22, 2016.
Kubota Garden Park 

Come walk with us. We are leading free fun and interesting urban nature walks in the greater Seattle area. Our next walk is set for October 22, 2016. We are going to explore Kubota Garden Park. It's a beautiful Japanese-American park located in South Seattle. For a story and picture, read Kubota Garden Park from the Puget Sound Urban Nature Series. More details about this walk coming soon!

To get our walk announcements delivered right to your in box, subscribe in box on the left side of this page. Share with your friends. They are free and fun!


Ten ways to flourish this fall


A Sweet Little Guide to Nature Me For You


A Simple Way to FEEL MORE JOY in your life

© Cary Given/Given Photography 2016



Journal Archive

Join us for our next Seattle City Walk through Kubota Garden Park

To get all the details about our next urban nature walk on October 22, 2016, click the link below.

Kubota Garden Park walk


Create your own morning ritual for a beautiful start to your day

I created my own morning ritual about 14 years ago and it is now an amazing grounding force in my life. I started with journaling and a cup of coffee each morning for about 15 minutes. Over the years I switched to herb tea, added meditation, added a homemade green smoothie and within the last few months, professional daily writing. My morning ritual has grown to about an hour and a half. I do have the luxury of writing at home, but when I was working out of the house, I gave myself extra time by getting up earlier. It was worth every minute. 

A morning ritual begins your day in a peaceful and empowered way. You can't always control situations or others, but you can choose how you want to start your day. Over time you will come to love this blissful morning time and the feeling will stay with you all day.  

Fall is an especially good time to create a morning ritual. The season has a natural energy that promotes change, clearing and makes way for the new. Falling leaves, cooler temperatures, and migrating birds are all good examples of change and clearing.

Defined, a ritual is something ceremonial with a series of actions. It can be 5 minutes or 30 minutes, depending on what works for your lifestyle. It's the focus on each action that makes it so special. Think of your ritual as nurturing for yourself, inside and out as you create it. 

So before you read your email, turn on the news or jump right into your to-dos, take a few minutes for yourself with two or three actions that add up to big support for your own well-being. You may have to get up a few minutes early or find a place where you won't be interrupted. But you are so worth it.

Here are some ideas of simple nourishing actions that you can do during your morning ritual. Start with one or two, add more or switch them up until you find the perfect ritual for you. Or, make up your own. Once you experience how wonderful a morning ritual makes you feel, you will never give it up.  

15 ideas to to help you create your own morning ritual...

Set an intention. This is a simple way to direct your day. A few of my I choose love...I will take actions that are empowering...I will come from a place of non judgment...I feel that success is inevitable...I expect nothing but the best...I will recognize and let go of my need to control. Whatever intention you choose, make it positive.  

Drink lemon water or tea. This is a great one to combine with another activity. If you are a coffee drinker that works, too. Google the benefits of drinking lemon water. It just may convert you.  

Write in your journal. One of my morning rituals. It never fails to give me perspective and help me prioritize what's important, getting me into an empowered state before my day starts. 

Walk outside. Early morning outside is the best. Take a gentle walk around your yard, block or neighborhood. Let your thoughts go and be present as you walk. Lovely.

Make a green smoothie. Drinking a green smoothie is nourishing in so many ways. I added this to my morning ritual about two years ago and love it. You can find tons of recipes and the specific health benefits on the internet. 

Listen to music. Listening to spa or nature sounds first thing keeps your thoughts at bay, giving you time to ease into your day. You might sip tea or coffee and look out the window while listening. It's all about stillness here.

Write. If you love to write, this is the time to do it. I just added daily writing (working on a book) to my morning ritual a few months ago. It's amazing how the words add up. 

Breathe the morning air. Grab a wool throw, step outside and take three or four deep breaths. It's a simple cleansing activity. This is a simple action to combine with another. 

Light a candle. This is nice to combine with another. It can add a beautiful spiritual element to your ritual. 

Draw. If you enjoy drawing, morning is an inspiring time to create. A little bit every day creates amazing art in no time.

Watch the sunrise or watch the night as it turns to daylight. This will make you feel like you've accomplished a great feat before your day starts. If you can get outside, wrap yourself in a warm blanket and sip a warm beverage. It's heaven. 

Meditate or pray. Meditation is part of my morning ritual that gives me so much comfort. Over time I have noticed a difference between the days that I do meditate and the days that I don't. A meditation day is filled with peace, ease and often fun. I am more apt to let things happen instead of trying to control situations or people. If you are new to mediation, you can find many free guided ones online. Start with 5 minutes. 

Read something uplifting. Find a motivating book that appeals to you and read a few pages every morning. Choose a book that focuses on personal growth and empowerment.

Gentle exercise. Yoga poses and stretches are a nice way to wake up your body. Three or four for a few minutes will do wonders. 

Watch the birds in your backyard or neighborhood. Birds are most active in the morning so your chances are good for spying one. They generally symbolize freedom and will give you great joy when you see one. You can incorporate this while on a gentle walk. 

Do you have a morning ritual? Share with us! And if you like, share with your friends with the button below.


Join us for our next Seattle City Walk through Discovery Park

To get all the details about our next urban nature walk on September 10, 2016, click the link below.

Discovery Park walk


Nine cool ideas for your summer days

Deception Pass State Park, WA. © 2016 Curt Given/ Given PhotographySummer has a wonderful energy. The season's long days and warm temperatures give you plenty of time for the outdoors. Ranging from a vigorous hike to a fun day at the lake to lazing around in a lounge chair with a good book to an outdoor concert, the choices are ample.

For many of you it's tempting to fill the weeks with lots of exciting experiences. But, I guarantee you will enjoy the summer much more if you slow your pace a little and build a balance between exciting and relaxing activities. Taking it easy during the summer can be just as delightful as an adventurous outing. You can do both. So mix it up. Here are nine summery activities to enjoy.

1. Take a wildflower hike. Mountain wildflowers are blooming now and many are at their peak stage. When you come upon a cluster of pink, blue, white and orange wildflowers cascading down a mountain side or coloring a meadow you will sigh in wonder and maybe even feel a little enchanted at the glorious scene. 

2. Start your day early and outside. Find a place to start your day outside in your PJs. Your deck, front porch, backyard or a nearby green space works. Do this before you do anything else. Take a warm beverage and just go sit or stand quietly for a few minutes. For a beverage, you might try warm water with lemon. Its antibacterial, antiviral and immune-boosting properties are powerful. Enjoy the sights and sounds of early morning nature. The birds, the sky, the dew on the grass, the growing daylight, the pink flowers. This simple activity will set the tone for a stress-free day!

3. Take a Nature Me walk with us on August 13th. Walking is one of the easiest and best ways to enjoy summertime. Adding great urban scenery and a group of fun, friendly people equals a fabulous group walk. If you can't join us for our next walk, we design and offer a new one every month in the Seattle area.

4. Kayak your way to feeling good. Being around water is always nurturing. The action of paddling offset by serene scenery is an excellent way to combine exercise with soothing surroundings. It's the best. 

3. Discover a secret beach. Search for coastal hikes that take side trips to out-of-the-way beaches. Or look for beaches that can only be accessed at low tide. Many times after a short walk from the highway you can be exploring your own private beach. Tide pools, sea mammals, coastal forests, seabirds and lovely sand between your toes await you. 

4. See nature as your playground. Explore, be curious. Go with a sense of adventure. Immerse yourself in the mystery and beauty of nature. Local parks, walking or hiking trails, beach fronts, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds, meadows, and wetlands all make good areas for exploration. Start with basic questions. What plants grow here? What might be influencing their growth? Are there animals in the area or birds in the trees? All you really need is a little focus. Observe scenes close-up and from a distance. Before long you will find yourself immersed in nature's inherent beauty.    

6. Find an area outside for journaling. A pretty outdoor place surrounded by plants and flowers is perfect for journaling. The natural healing energy of the place will help slow down your thoughts. If you are new to journaling, start by writing what you are grateful for in your life. A simple list will do and it can be anything from your comfy bed to your children to the charm of the place you are in right now. This is a good way to shift your consciousness into a more positive state. Then you can move on to reflection of any issues you might want to work through. Just make sure that you balance venting and solution oriented thoughts as you write. Places to journal could be a Japanese garden, a beautifully landscaped coffee house, your back yard, or a park.   

7. Visit a u-pick garden for tonight's dinner. Search for local u-pick gardens in your area. Nothing like picking fresh vegetables on a summer day. I did this a couple of weeks ago with friends and it was so much fun to wander through the rows of vegetables picking lettuce, zucchini, cucumbers, herbs and beans. Later we dined on a fresh salad and grilled veggies. Perfect. Just thinking about doing this will make you feel healthy.

8. Create your own summer ritual. Give some thought to something simple that you enjoy doing with a creative bent. Something that helps you unwind, forget your worries, gets you focused fast or gives your day some meaning beyond daily stuff. Then figure out a way to take it outside. Some simple examples might be writing, cooking, listening to music, playing games, planting flowers, drawing, reading or anything that is relaxing to you that is not work. Now here is where the fun begins. Create your own ritual. A ritual is something ceremonial with a series of actions. It's the focus on each action that makes it so special. For example, I love to write. My summer ritual is to write early in the morning, in a beautiful place outside, with a lovely cup of jasmine tea, in a beautiful journal with handmade pages, using a colored pen and meditating for a minute or two before I start. Simple right? I think you get the idea. Your ritual will feel lovely and summery.

9. Stop to smell the roses. I know it's a cliche, but its message is timeless. (Thus a cliche!) Take time to find delight in simple summer pleasures. The smell of the flowers near your home. The sound of a bird singing its little heart out. The way you feel when the sky is blue. The awe inspiring colors of a sunset. The breeze that cools your skin on a warm day. The feel of grass under your bare feet. Tiny flowers that border a trail. The soothing sound of water. The way leaves glow when back lit by the sun. There's so much to love about summer. Find your own delights!

What do you love about summer? Share some of your ideas for activities with us! And if you feel so inclined, share this post with your friends using the button below.


Join us for our next Seattle city walk through Sunset Hill neighborhood, Golden Gardens Park and Ballard Marina


To get all the details about our next summer walk on Saturday August 13, 2016, click the link below.

Sunset Hill neighborhood, Golden Gardens park and Ballard Marina summer walk


Join us for our next Seattle city walk in the Eastlake Neighborhood and south area of Lake Union

To get all the details about our next urban nature walk on Saturday, July 9, 2016, click the link below. 

Eastlake neighborhood and south area of Lake Union Seattle walk


Happy Summer Solstice: Feel the inspiring energy of summer

Sunrise, North Cascade Mountains, © Curt Given/Given Photography 2016I love summer. The season always feels so sweet, uplifting and, best of all, FUN. And for those of us in the northern hemisphere, it's just beginning. 

Late night walks and talks, backyard barbecues and fires, early morning light with coffee on the deck, abundant flowers, patio dates, summer concerts, last minute getaways, outdoor workouts and so much more.

The inspiring energy of this season is heightened by spending time in nature. Open up to it and you will find that summer is filled with new light and beauty.

As you tap into the energy of the summer months, know that it's not as much about what you do, as it is about how you FEEL when you are doing it. Decide how you want to feel FIRST, then choose an activity or project that will bring about that good feeling. Do you want to feel... 

  • Adventuresome
  • Accomplished
  • Creative
  • Energized
  • Joyful
  • Soulful
  • Strong
  • Abundant
  • Productive
  • Playful
  • Connected
  • Relaxed 
  • Confident
  • Inventive
  • Loved
  • Inspired
  • Light-hearted

Here are 20 ideas to get you going and remember to think about how you want to FEEL before you decide what to do. It's a wonderful approach to life. Make this a regular practice and you will be amazed at how rich your life will feel when you base your actions on good feelings that suit you! 

  1. Plant a shade garden
  2. Organize a backyard barbecue
  3. Take a hike
  4. Swim in the ocean
  5. Find a riverbed to explore
  6. Wine taste outside with friends
  7. Go tent camping
  8. Install a new backyard water feature
  9. Take an early morning walk
  10. Photograph some wild flowers 
  11. Learn how to paddle board
  12. Go bird watching
  13. Visit a national park
  14. Take a pelagic boat trip
  15. Start a nature journal
  16. Take a nap outside
  17. Play mini-golf 
  18. Meditate in your backyard
  19. Sleep outside
  20. Explore a scenic byway 

Happy Summer Solstice everyone!

Share your ideas with us. What kind of activities do you love to do in the summer? And how do they make you feel? And if you feel so inclined, please share with the button below.


More summer fun....

Seven ways to get the most out of your summer walk

Beaching it on the Puget Sound

Join us for our next urban nature walk on July 9th at 10 am. We will be exploring one of Seattle's newest hip neighborhoods--South Lake Union. More details to come soon. If you have not yet subscribed to Nature Me, you can get all the details delivered right to your in-box, by signing up in the box to the left of this post.  


Join us for our Next Seattle city walk along Alki Beach in the West Seattle Neighborhood 

To sign up and get all the details about our next urban nature walk on Saturday June 4, 2016, click the link below. 

Alki Beach walk in West Seattle


Explore a park this SPRING

Moss and tiny rock flowers cover wet canyon walls in the Columbia Gorge
I just got back from a few days in the Columbia Gorge, one of the most lush natural areas in the Pacific Northwest.

I returned home believing that exploring a park or some other natural area might be the next best thing you can do for yourself this spring. Here is a bit of description about our recent excursion to the Columbia Gorge. 

We were hiking uphill through a beautiful canyon in one of the many Columbia Gorge parks, located just east of Portland, Oregon. It's an outstanding natural area of towering cliffs, canyons and waterfalls.

As I climbed, I was charmed by the bright green moss and tiny rock flowers that covered dripping canyon walls. The sweet smell of spring infused the air. Splashing water from waterfalls and rivers generated abundant amounts of magical little negative ions. I took deep breaths to get all of their mood-lifting benefits. Strands of sunlit moss dangled from every tree branch. Signs of new life were everywhere and the spring energy was palpable. I couldn't get enough!

Whether it's a few hours or a few days, tap into your sense of adventure and start planning your next excursion. Spring will welcome you.


More from Nature Me

Join our next Nature me group walk as we explore Alki Beach and surrounding neighborhood on June 4. It's always a fun time and we end our walks with lunch at a cool urban restaurant. I'll post more details about where to meet and how to sign up here on the blog soon, but in the meantime save the date --June 4th at 10 am.  

Something's in the air and it ain't love 

Discover the Secrets of Olympic National Park's Seashore

Find a park you might like to explore from the Puget Sound Urban Nature Series

  -Love the dune grass

  -Beauty for you

  -Well-loved by Seattleites

  -A jewel in the midst

  -Paradise in Seattle 

  -Get inspired

  -A sound view

  -Beaching it on the Puget Sound  

   -Six easy steps

I'm continually exploring and writing about Puget Sound urban parks...what parks would you like to explore? Leave your suggestions for articles in the comments below or send me an email.


We have a new private FACEBOOK GROUP for Nature Me. You can post nature related photos, articles, reports, tips and questions. Share your personal experiences and stories. Suggest places to go and what to do in nature. Just click on the link below to check it out and join.

Facebook Group Nature Me Community 


Join us for our next Seattle city spring walk in Volunteer Park and Harvard-Belmont historic neighborhood 

Lemon tree inside Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle Washington

To sign up and get all the details about our next urban nature walk on Saturday April 16, 2016, click the link below. 

Volunteer Park and Harvard-Belmont historic neighborhood walk. 


11 ways to embrace spring

Cherry and Oregon Crab Apple trees. © 2016 Curt Given/ Given PhotographySpring is so invigorating. The season is naturally filled with signs of birth, renewal, and newness. You can't help but feel inspired to try something new. Change things up. Get outside. Start that new outdoor project. Here are eleven spring experiences to get your creativity flowing.

1. Take an early morning walk often. It's when wildlife is the most active. Birds are calling for their would-be mates and easy to spot in their brightly colored mating feathers. Tiny mammals are eating the fresh greens along side roads and pathways. And the crisp air feels so good. Walk at least weekly and notice the changes.

2. Look for old bird nests. Trees are just beginning to leaf out, so you have plenty of time to look for old birds nests. This will give you a jump on where birds will be nesting this year. They are so fun to watch when nesting. You can see them tirelessly rebuild their nest with umpteen trips, their beaks filled with grasses and leaves. Soon you will catch glimpses of babies and hear their peeps. In our area near the Ballard Locks there is an amazing Great Blue Heron rookery. You can see, hear and smell the adults as they refurbish their nests and feed their babies throughout the spring. Always an awe-inspiring site that will capture your interest for a long time.

3. Find a wetland. These nutrient rich areas are home to many critters. You can see herons, muskrats, marsh wrens, minks, weasels, ducks, geese and blackbirds to name a few. We have a favorite day-trip from the Seattle area just past the Canadian Border. It's the George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary. A springtime visit to this sanctuary is well worth the trip. Here is a link to an article I wrote for Parent Map that describes all the details and how to get there. Put it on your list of outings. You will love it. Article link: Winging it! A great family getawy that's for the birds

4. Explore a riverfront trail. Last week while I walked along a riverfront trail, I saw Canada geese, a pileated woodpecker, squirrels, hummingbirds and a snake...all within about an hour. River otters are common in rivers, too and I've seen them many times. I'm always amused to watch as they play, swim and tumble back and forth between the river bank and water. You can look for their burrows and holes in the river bank. The teaming life along a river can be quite captivating in a short amount of time. 

5. Notice trees, shrubs and flowers. Use a field guide to identify plants. Or take a picture and look up online. Changes are daily now and it's fun to track plant growth. Are they leafing out or still dormant. What shape and color are the leaves? Do they still have their winter fruit? Are flowers starting to bud or even bloom? Where are green shoots coming up? Try to name the flowers and trees.

6. Note how spring makes you feel. Do you feel more energy than usual? Take advantage of the inspiring energy to start something new or clear out some old stuff. This can be either internal or external. For example, start a new meditation or walking routine. Or, clear the clutter from an area of your house. The rhythm and energy of the spring season make new starts easier.

7. Listen and watch for birds. Carry a small field guide with you to identify the birds you see and hear. Or use Ibird Pro, which is a great app to help you ID them while in the field. Notice the birds that are showing off their spring plumage.

8. Track the weather. Is it still cold enough for a hat? Is the rain or frost keeping you inside? If you do any traveling note the differences in temperatures. I was on the eastern side of the state last week and definitely needed hat and gloves for an early morning walk. Are the days fluctuating between warm and cold or gradually getting warmer? Is frost still evident in the early morning? It's fun to notice the changes and helps you immerse yourself into the rhythm of the season. 

9. Embrace the season. Find a natural place you like and note all of the characteristics that are related to spring. Then plan to visit it often during the season and track the changes. Then take it a step further and visit the same place each season to note the difference. You will learn how every season has its own kind of beauty. 

10. Sit in the sun. Its energy is important for our health in so many ways. Bask in its warmth and remember the sun's vital importance to all living things.

11. See nature as your playground. Your playground can be anything from a local park to a wilderness area to your own backyard. Be curious. Explore. Look closely at everything. Immerse yourself in the mystery and beauty of mother nature as people have done for thousands of years. You will find nature illuminating in so many ways.   

What are some of your favorite ways to embrace spring? Are you working in your garden? Planting new shrubs? Or, maybe taking a spring vacation to a sunny spot? We want to know so share with us! And if you feel so inclined, please click the button below to share with others. 

Happy spring!!


Below are links to more spring ideas and activities!

Earth love

Add a little spring to your day

Somethings in the air

Get inspired at Bellevue Botanical Gardens


Seattle City Walk - Madison Park on March 6, 2016 

Come walk with us! We are leading free urban nature walks around Seattle. We've got a new walk planned for Madison Park on March 6, 2016. 


This urban nature walk takes in all of the upscale beauty and charm of the Madison Park neighborhood. You'll get great views of Lake Washington, a look at the eclectic mix of shops and restaurants that border Madison avenue and a nice walk through this peaceful neighborhood of beautiful homes with amazing landscapes.

Our walking trail parallels Lake Washington, heading south from Madison Park to Madrona Park. It's about 4 miles round trip. Depending on our pace and stops along the way, it will take approximately 2.5 hours. The terrain is mostly asphalt, so wear comfy walking shoes. 

Click to read more ...


One darn good reason to get up early!

Yellowstone River, © Curt Given/ Given Photography 2016Sometimes it's good to get up early. But given the choice for most of us, the soft sheets, warm cozy blankets and lull of sleep make it way more appealing to stay under the covers. And if it's still dark outside when your alarm goes's even more challenging to get out of bed.

Here's one good reason to get up early...

Click to read more ...


Seattle City Walk - Queen Anne Hill and Kerry Park on January 30, 2016

Come walk with us. We are leading free urban nature walks around Seattle. Our next Queen Anne Hill city walk is on January 30, 2016 and includes the iconic Kerry Park. 


We've designed an urban walk that explores the distinct Queen Anne Hill neighborhood with its grand homes, charming parks and scenic views of Seattle, Lake Union and Puget Sound. 

A unique mix of remarkable homes, old stairways, local parks and urban cafes make up this prominent neighborhood.


Click to read more ...


WINTER. Profoundly beautiful...going deep for a new year

Frost and Forest. © Curt Given/Given Photography 2015

Winter in Mount Baker National Forest. © Cary Given/Given Photography 2015

Hawk Owl. © Cary Given/Given Photography 2015

Ice on Cle Elum Lake, Washington. © Curt Given/Given Photography 2015

Queen Elizabeth Range. © Cary Given/Given Photography 2015