The Mindful Life Interviews highlight members of the community who are living mindfully. Recently, I had the opportunity to interview program participant Judy Wine. Judy is a lifelong fine artist and teacher. She creates vibrant scenes from nature, specifically the joyous beauty of flowers. However, words and descriptions do not do her work justice—her work must be seen to be appreciated. The hardest part of this article was choosing which pieces to feature, as they are all breathtaking.
Our weight loss program has five components: mindfulness, food, activity, relationships, and nature. Nature helps with weight loss and health in many ways. The fundamental way is that in connecting with ourselves as part of nature, we learn to listen to what our bodies need: rest, exercise, a diet of whole, unprocessed foods, fresh air, balance, joy, and so on. Additionally, nature can help to quiet the mind and provide a deep sense of peace. In my interview with Judy, she shares with us how she finds joy in nature, and how spending time outdoors is part of her Mindful Life.
KG: Can you describe what nature means to you?
JW: There is nothing I love more than beauty, and to me nature is the most beautiful thing in the world. Also the trees, the plants, the rivers, and the rocks are full of spirit. In school as a child they taught us that nature was important for the products we could make out of it—wood from trees, coins from metals, and so on. But I always felt nature was worth a lot more than that. I wished I could live back in the time of Ancient Greece (or before) when people felt the same way as I do. But now since I’ve become a spiritual person, I know that the sacredness of nature that I feel is true right now.
KG: Yes, I think the mindset of “what can we take from nature” is what has gotten our planet into the mess it is in. We view the earth as a resource, and not as a sacred place, as you say “full of spirit.” How does spending time in nature contribute to your self-care regimen?
JW: Being in nature wakes up all of my senses. It enlivens my spirit, it relaxes me, and brings me joy.
KG: I feel the same way when I am outdoors, or even when I am looking at a natural scene–fully alive. Your art is certainly a testament to this. As a fine artist, can you describe how nature inspires you? Also, how long have you been an artist, and what is your background and training?
JW: I’ve loved art since I was a child. Around the age of 11, I began sketching things around me–household items, my cat, or even my own feet propped up on the table in front of me. In college I majored in art education. I’ve been studying art ever since.
JW: To me, flowers are the literal embodiment of unconditional love. Beautiful, colorful, and smelling delicious, with personalities from raucous to shy, they open up their beauty for all the world to see, no matter what you say, think, or do. If you step on them, they keep right on opening, giving all they’ve got without blame, without fear. If that isn’t unconditional love, what is?
Flowers, and all of nature (including wildlife) feed my spirit, especially wildflowers. There is nothing so delightful as a field of wildflowers dancing together in the sun.
KG: Well said! I believe that flowers are a very powerful metaphor for unconditional love, and in overcoming adversity with joy. Thich Nhat Hanh has said that in order to heal we all need to fall in love with Earth. As somebody who is already in love with Earth, what advice can you give someone who is just beginning to discover a connection to nature?
JW: The important thing is to see nature with your heart and not with your head. Your heart loves nature, so when you tune into that, you can truly experience nature the way it is.
KG: Very true! Much of what we do in our program is learn to quiet the thinking mind. With a quiet mind, it becomes easier to experience the world with your heart, and to make positive changes toward health. Simply spending time in nature allows many people to access a place of internal quiet almost instantly. It is that heart-centered experience that is so nourishing to body, mind, and spirit.
Thank you, Judy, for sharing your thoughts with me. Thank you for your contribution to the Mindful Life community, and for the beauty you bring into the world with your kind spirit and your awe-inspiring art.