An Invasive Species?

A few years back I was asked to raise three newly hatched starlings that had been found at the foot of a big tree by an old lady.

Reluctantly, I took on those birds, and lo and behold I was able to raise and release them successfully. Whenever I see or hear starlings since then, I like telling my daughter that those are our three starlings saying thank you. Today, a extraordinarily big flock of starlings landed around the house and well beyond the creek. They were so loud it was both amazing and a little bit intimidating. Afterwards I thought about writing about this, as in “I had rescued the starlings and they came back with all their friends to thank me”, when I remembered that European starlings are considered an invasive species in North America. That made me think about invasive species and the similarities to what humans do all over the world. So, this is what I want to write about today.

Starlings (May 28, 2020)

Starlings were moved from Europe, their ancestral habitat, to North America in the late 19th century, where they are now one of the most abundant birds.

Starlings are said to be very adaptable, eating a wide variety of foods and nesting in many different locations. Bottom line is that European starlings infringe on native species’ habitat. That affects the balance of the web of life, and so starlings end up with a bad reputation (Forgive me for bottom lining this so bluntly).

Stepping out of the problem zone and onto a meta-level, I am thinking that those birds do just do what birds do. They simply happen to be at the wrong place (human judgement).

It occurred to me to compare this scenario to human activity. Are we doing the same thing? If so, what makes us different? We do after all come with the ability to reflect on our own behavior and the effects of our actions on the world around us. This ties in with what I’m writing in my new book (“Freedom Within Reach” about living as part of nature and not trying to govern nature).

Some thoughts you might want to ponder over are:

  • In what way do we (as humans) behave like an invasive species?
  • In what ways do you behave, and affect the habitat and the species around?
  • In what way do you fit in with what’s around you?

That’s all for today thank you very much! Please drop me a note with your thoughts and answers.

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach | https://creeksideinspirations.ca/blog

Finding Your Wild Self & Living A Full Life

Manuela & Anya, 2022

The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

(Photo by Sandra Grünewald, Unsplash, 2023)

One of my doors is behind the pain and loneliness I experienced when I was a toddler, in a hospital, for several months, tied down so I would not fidget with my leg (it was in a cast), or stand up (which might have jeopardized the healing of the leg).

I have come to learn that the greatest scars can become our greatest strengths, because they soften us to the human-ness of the people around us.

What do you think?

I am so curious to hear about your doors. Have you found it yet? Do you dare look for it?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach

Connecting over Garbage

At first, we saw some garbage, the usual, a few discarded food containers, a coffee cup lid, carelessly dropped or lost by the inattentive visitor. Nothing that could not easily be picked up and collected in a small garbage bag later (and I generally do, because it hurts my eye more to see the garbage than it is an effort to pick it up and dispose of it in a designated spot).

It was a hot Sunday. We decided to go for a swim at a place along a river, where the water cascading over sheet rock is easy to access and not too deep.

Walking on we came across an abandoned campsite, with bottles and aluminum foil in the fire pit. Right next to it was a good sized box full of discarded packing material and bottles – the leftovers of a party. It seemed that someone had just abandoned the site and walked away that very morning. I looked around, but aside from a lone person walking along the shore in some distance (we had parked right next to his car) we were the only ones around. I pointed out to my husband that I was going to bring the box of garbage back and dispose of it.

I anticipated the wind would scatter it soon, and the rain would soak it. Then it would be much harder to clean it up next time around. My heart was full of resentment, and a fun day felt suddenly spoiled. I was at odds with the world and definitely upset with the person(s) who had left their garbage behind. While I realized that emotion, it was hard to shake it.

Regardless, we did our thing and explored the river. Eventually, the lone walker came towards us and I spoke to him. He told me that he was not from around here, and that he was camping out. Oh, I said, is that box up on the bank yours by any chance? He said that it wasn’t, but that he wanted to come back with a garbage bag and clean it up. I responded that I was going to take the box, and that he could come back with the said garbage bag and clean up the rest. He said, bless you, and that was all it took to put my world back on its hinges.

Connecting with just one like-minded person can change our world.

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My intention:

Sustainability- How to live happily while leaving the earth in the same or a better state than before – is what I strive for and educate people about

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach

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(Photo by Anastasia Nelen, Unsplash, 2023)

Minding the Little Things

Leopard Frog

I just came across a very small (what I believe to be a) leopard frog. Why I saw it? – Because it moved. Once it stopped, I had a hard time finding it again. Can you spot it in the picture-insert?

Leopard Frog, June 28, 2023

When I held out my hand the frog jumped on it. It did not stop but kept moving, and I felt fortunate to get one shot with the little amphibian in focus.

I am sharing this experience, because I felt so passionate about this sighting, so amazed at how tiny, how perfect and how fragile this little frog is. That created a sense of responsibility and reverence in me.

What I learned from the encounter: Frogs are amazing. Life is precious. I am grateful.

What was the latest thing that created a sense of awe in you?

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Johnson Salamander

I almost stepped onto this little guy. At first, I thought somebody had dropped a piece of rubber in the grass.

Then I realized I had a visitor. A mysterious visitor.

Luckily he did not mind waiting there, in his spot in the grass, while I found out that the Jefferson Salamander is considered an endangered species in our area. I sat in a distance from him for a while, then let him be. He was there all evening, but gone the next morning.

Johnson Salamander, June 24, 2023

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach

Your Body Has You Covered

When the fog is too thick for you to find your way around, your body knows where to go.

That might be a bit of a metaphorical exaggeration. Please bear with me as I unroll my thoughts:

Unfortunately, our area is currently experiencing dense smog from wildfires in this and other provinces of Canada. While we cannot really smell it (unlike yesterday, when the smell of a cold fire pit hung in the air), my chest felt heavy this morning, I felt reluctant to take a deep breath, and a headache was (and is) lingering. I pointed out to my daughter that there are people who spend their lives in conditions like this, where the air is polluted all the time. And how lucky we can be that this is only a temporary situation.

I also became aware how messages from my body – reluctant to take a deep breath – can be such a great guide, and how important it is consequently, to listen to somatic impressions.

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As your coach with a strong affinity towards stewardship for our natural world I would ask you:

When do you feel your body telling you something you are not consciously aware of (yet)?

There is a very useful little exercise with which you can quickly gain (or regain) access to your somatic wisdom and your inner compass. Drop me a note if you are interested.

(Photo by Greg Rosenke, Unsplash 2023)

Fit Body & Fit Mind

I have good news and a reality check. Let me tell you a story, and you can see if you can find the good news! If you are lucky, your body was naturally fit in your younger years. For example, you could eat whatever you wanted without gaining any weight, for example, and you were naturally fit, even if you did not work out a lot.

If you are anything like me, now that you are older, you are putting on weight much more easily, and to stay physically in shape takes time and dedication. Again, if you are lucky, you love healthy food, which can give you an advantage with regards to healthy eating habits. Me, I love crunchy vegetables and any kind of fruit. So now that we are older, we come to realize how important healthy nutrition and exercise are in maintaining a healthy body.

The same principles – although less visible – apply to our mental health and fitness. The mental challenges of more mature humans are versatile, but there might be a midlife crisis, overwhelm with the responsibilities of life, and possibly some first signs of an aging body. To put up with those challenges and maintain a healthy disposition, one needs to exercise the mind just like the body.

It is quite possible to remain mentally fit, just like it is to remain physically fit. Consistency is the key. If you want to know more about that, please contact me or read up on my mental fitness program.

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Note from my canine sidekick: “I help a lot with Manuela’s mental and my physical fitness! I make her run a lot, and she says I always bring a smile to her face. Can you guess why?”

Photo: Danica’s cool ear fluff, 13.1.2023

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach

Canine Assisted Coaching Anyone?

Today I would like you to meet our dog Danica. Danica is an English Shepherd, and she is 6 months old. She has been with us since September, and she is in training to become a Service Dog, assisting me in my coaching. What Danica (along with so many of her fellow canines) brings into the world is her playful, gentle nature, and her ability to live in the moment, while never wasting time with grudges.

Danica loves to play with her Frisbee and with sticks of all kinds.

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Danica’s question for you: When was the last time you petted a dog?

Danica and her Frisbee (12.1.2023)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach

Playing to our strengths

Playing to your strength means doing what you are able to do well, rather than doing other things.

An example: A friend’s son was assessed for ADHD. In the process, it was found that he is simply a kid who needs more physical exercise than he was getting in school and at home. It was not easy, but the school and the parents found ways for him to get more play time outside and more time when he is unplugged from any technical devices.

This story led me to think about people in general:

Are we living our lives playing to our strengths or are we just playing along with the structures we find ourselves in?
How can we create the lives that make it possible for us to use our strengths and flourish?

This is of course only part of the picture. As professionals, we have to be realistic: It is not always possible to use our strengths (or is it?), to embrace our weaknesses (have you heard the term “own your weaknesses”?), and to know your growth areas. As a person working with other people, you can also play to their strengths (how exciting!), and of course, we are well advised to stretch to form new strengths, and develop an authentic, informed, and confident awareness around the whole topic. In summary: To be who we are!

In my Nature Connected Living Quest you will discover and work in a very comprehensive way with your strengths.

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness & Nature Coach

(Photo by Dustin Humes, Unsplash 2022)

Article inspired by: https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2020/01/10/play-to-your-strengths-13-even-better-ways-to-improve-your-leadership-skills/?sh=6ca7d03b6f79

Unique Animals

We have been enjoying the very unique personalities of several domestic ducks. It all began with a few barnyard-mix ducklings in 2021. In 2022, two Magpie-Cayuga ducklings followed. A number of them were males, so we found them loving new homes where they have been enjoying their own flocks of duck-ladies.

At the end of this summer, we had one female (Sunny) and one male (Magnum) left. For the second time in her life, Sunny was in the process of laying eggs, and for the second time in my life, I was collecting those eggs. Sunny did not want to accept the fate I had chosen for her – that is, not to have ducklings in late fall. I kept reminding her that it is much more sensible to raise her young when summer was approaching, and not when winter is around the corner. She paid no heed. Instead, she faithfully stuck to her nest which was well padded with her own down feathers, and the straw I had provided. She also rounded up a number of rocks that were roughly the size of her eggs, and she sat on them. One day, I was gone for a few hours, and the ducks were in their fenced in area as usual. When I came back, Sunny was nowhere to be found. My heart sank, when I remembered to check inside the duck coop. Sure enough, she was there, sitting on her nest. That was when I decided to give one egg back to her so she could follow her calling. It was September 21.

Sunny then was sitting on her nest for more than 23 hours in every 24-hour period. Magnum was sitting next to her nest for the same times. I left food and water in their duck coop. Once a day, I saw them going outside to frolic in their splash-pool for a bit and forage for insects in the grass.

Last Saturday, October 15, when I tucked them in for the night, I had a chance to inspect the egg, and I saw a tiny hole. Quickly, I put the egg back in the nest and spent a fearful night. Would the duckling be able to hatch? The next morning, when I walked into the duck-coop, I was greeted by a still wet duckling. By the time I had my camera ready, Sunny had covered up her little hatchling, and she was hissing at me preventively. My offering of cooked peas was graciously accepted.

On day two, the duckling – we named it Rocksie – was sitting next to Sunny, and we were allowed to hold it briefly, before giving it back to its mother, where it disappeared under the warm feathers.

I keep thinking what a miracle it is that we have been witnessing.

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Question: Where have you last experienced the magic of nature?

Sunny, Rocksie and Magnum (October 17, 2022)

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Mental Fitness and Nature Coach

Judgement is Disconnecting

Judging others, circumstances, or oneself is stripping an event of its embeddedness into the system it occurred in.

– Manuela Zeitlhofer (2022)

(photo by Eskay Lim, Unsplash, 2022)

Have you ever noticed yourself judging others, circumstances and yourself (!) with a very sharp and self-righteous mind? And has it ever happened, that – in comparable situations – you found yourself full of compassion, or curiosity over the mistakes and wrongdoings of others and yourself?

If you can relate to both, you might sense that…

…judgement comes from within, because ever external circumstance can lead you to either be judgemental or compassionate. (Some contributing factors might be the self-care you treat yourself with, and how full your reservoir of self-love is.)

…there are factors inside of you that sabotage you, your goals, your goodness (called “Saboteurs” or “Inner Critics”), as well as factors that bring out the best in you (called “Sage”).

…every problem, every circumstance, everything you might get agitated or upset about can lead to an opportunity, a gift even.

This topic lends itself so beautifully to coaching! If you are curious, please comment, or send me a note.

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach

The Magic of Persistence

Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘Press On!’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

― Calvin Coolidge

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Many times our inner critics keep us from achieving our fullest potential. Imagine what you could do if you were not concerned about failure, but if you saw every failure as a teachable moment that can only advance you toward your goals?

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Manuela Zeitlhofer | Authenticity & Mental Fitness Coach