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Eleanor Leyden: It's the Little Things That Count

Last week I began an exploration of how some of us nurture ourselves through nature, starting with myself. This week let me introduce you to one of One Earth Conservation’s Advisory Team Members, Eleanor Leyden.

First, here’s some background info about Eleanor that focuses mainly on her great love for animals: Eleanor's career as a cat lady began at the age of three when she got her first kitten. As an adult this blossomed into a series of cat rescues in Bangladesh, China and Qatar where she worked teaching languages. She co-sponsored both a Roots and Shoots Chapter and an Animal Rescue Club in a high school where she mentored students in the nurturing of plants and animals and thus had the opportunity to meet Jane Goodall twice! Her love for animals has led most recently to volunteering with Pegasus, LLC, a non-profit that seeks to promote wellness in children and adults via horseback riding and horse care activities. Her dreams include the possibility of creating a cat therapy lounge/shelter for retirement homes and fostering service dog puppies. In the meantime Eleanor feels it is essential to promote good stewardship of ourselves and the animals with whom we share this planet and thus found her way to join One Earth Conservation's Advisory Team, specifically focusing on education programs.

I asked Eleanor to share with us the answers to the following questions:

1. Do you have a practice of nurturing yourself?

2. How are you nurtured by nature?

3. What do you do to nurture nature?

Do you have a practice of nurturing yourself? Yes, and on many levels – physical, mental and spiritual. I make sure to sleep when tired and get exercise but I also believe in caring for one's spirit and feeding one's soul. I find many ways to relax, such as doing yoga, meditating, taking warm baths, and cooking up interesting recipes. I also try to feed myself with good information, such as good books and films, intelligent news reporting, and visits to interesting museums or cultural events. In addition, I make an effort to create and maintain good relationships and most importantly have good conversations. I give myself permission to enjoy these activities and my life even when everything is not going 100% the way I would like it to go. I strongly believe there is always something to be thankful for and there is always a simple pleasure to be had.

How are you nurtured by nature? I need the natural world to keep balanced and to keep my sense of place in this amazing universe. I walk in the woods and parks often, which really energizes me at a very deep level. The chance to spot wildlife on my walks is always appreciated. Sighting woodland creatures or birds is a notable event that I share with everyone. Sometimes it interferes with civilized life. I was watching two hawks do something interesting while I was stopped at a red light and I was not happy when the light changed and the other cars honked at me to get a move on! My favorite sports involve being in the heart of nature – kayaking, swimming, biking and hiking. In the past cross country skiing and trail riding have kept me happy. I love dogs, cats and horses, so being around them is very enjoyable and keeps me tuned in to other living beings. The volunteer work I do with therapeutic riding lets me focus on the needs of a horse and rider while facilitating their interactions, which in turn lifts me up. I always crave the beach; the sights, smells and textures of the seashore are relaxing and rejuvenating. I have been lucky to create two little gardens where I could sit surrounded by the freshness and beauty of plants. I am very attached to this planet and all it's life.

What do you do to nurture nature? I love caring for animals. I take good care of our two household cats and try to satisfy their needs for stimulation and affection, as well as taking care to feed and brush them. Family members of mine own dogs, chickens and horses, who I also enjoy caring for. I love to watch animals and try to understand what they are experiencing and what they need and I like responding to or anticipating their needs. I have been learning how to garden and taking care of plants is so satisfying. They can't tell you what they need so you have to be attentive. My family is very committed to recycling so we sort our trash and have a compost bucket. I love composting because you participate in a life and ecological cycle with each scrap you put in the earth. Creating my latest urban garden spot resulted in the following miracles: a bird built its nest in the tree I planted and a butterfly appeared in a place where I had not seen one for two years. Build an ecosystem and the life will come! My sister and I recently put up an insect hotel to help all sorts of flying insects survive over the winter and we don't use any chemicals in our yard and garden because we want life to flourish naturally. When I skim the duckweed from our two frog ponds, I search through the net for the tadpoles and throw them back in the pond. It seems it is the little things that count.

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