Going To The Grand Canyon Is Going Home

What makes a place a home? A habitat is the natural environment of an animal, plant or other organism. Ok, but what makes a place a home?

Most of us live in cities now.  Other than brick, wood and a cozy kitchen or bedroom, what is home for you? 

President Theodore Roosevelt visits Yosemite National Park with John Muir, 1903

The first time I visited the Grand Canyon, I was 10 years old.  I loved being there.  I remember hiking a short way down Bright Angel trail and seeing the trains of mules.  I told myself then I wanted to take a mule ride someday.

My family drove across the country in a sedan with no air conditioning pulling an Apache pop-up tent trailer.  We camped and hiked in national parks all across the western states.  But when we got to the Grand Canyon, I felt I was home.

I have yet to take that mule ride, but I have visited the Grand Canyon many times, have hiked Bright Angel Trail to the Colorado River and stayed at Phantom Ranch.

John Muir first walked across the San Joaquin Valley in 1868 through waist-high wildflowers and into the high country for the first time. Later he would write: “Then it seemed to me the Sierra should be called no the Nevada, or Snowy Range, but the Range of Light…the most divinely beautiful of all the mountain chains I have ever seen.”

Going to the mountains is going home. – John Muir

I was born in the midwest and live today in Minnesota.  Minnesota is well known for intense winters.  At the other end of the climate spectrum is the Grand Canyon, yet I find it exquisitely beautiful, vista after beautiful vista. The colors of the layers of stone are harmonious and the history is a sweet hum.  The canyon looks different by the moment of the day and the day of the year.  It comforts me knowing that the canyon has changed little in the years since my first visit — my life of however many years compared to the life span of this canyon. Research shows that the canyon may be as many as 17 million years old.

Why is that comforting? What is it about the Grand Canyon that draws me in?  The average person spends about 5 hours at the canyon, seventeen minutes of that time looking at the canyon itself.

17 minutes.

Brooks_Range-400pxBob Marshall reached Alaska and the Brooks Range in 1928 after a short career in the Forest Service.  He settled into a one room cabin in Wiseman, Alaska, furnished with books, records, a phonograph player and a writing desk. His desk looked out over the Koyukuk River and the central Brooks Range. His 15 month stay engendered a great love for these snow-covered mountains in the Alaskan wilderness.

Why is it that we travel to wild places and find that we belong there? Does it mean that we were there before?  Or is it that we resonate with the canyon or the mountains or the highland meadow?  John Muir resonated with the Sierra Nevada and from that connection created the Sierra Club. Bob Marshall climbed peaks of the central Brooks Range, and it became one of his favorite places.

The wilderness and the idea of wilderness is one of the permanent homes of the human spirit. – Joseph Wood Krutch

Have you ever arrived at a place for the first time and felt at home?  Have you found it to be familiar? That you belonged?  The Grand Canyon is special to me. In our summer family vacations, we visited many parks, yet the South Rim was vivid in my memory.

What places draw you in?  Where in the world do you feel a powerful connection?

Please share with us the places you love best.

Be well 🙂



Photo Credits: A.M. Beaulieu, National Park Service, Wikipedia

Sources: John Muir-Sierra Club Bob Marshall-Wikipedia LiveScience.com

The Gratitude List 2018

There is so much chat about gratitude, especially this time of year, this time of looking inward and looking forward to the coming year. If you have spent any time pondering what you are grateful for in your life, you know that once you begin, the list is never ending! My personal list of blessings includes my family, both people & animals. I am lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my father being the only child who ventured out into the world then came back home.

With The Gratitude List from Pure.Better.Cleaner, I share my key lessons & gifts of the past year.  I feel that these people, products and organizations are so special that it is important to share them with you.

It is my hope that you will also benefit from one or more of them in the year to come!

  1. PinchofYumPinch of Yum — Do you know those foodies who are Pinch of Yum?  Well, I am a big fan of Lindsay & Bjork Ostrom (+ team & family :). Lindsay began blogging while teaching 4th grade because she loves cooking and writing about it.  In not so very much time, the blog became what they both do. I like them for a lot of reasons.  They are fellow Minnesotans, dog lovers, foodies and a former teacher. I also love that they help others blog. With clear instructions and a straight forward method, they outline a road map that will take you to the desired destination — a successful blog — all the while reminding one that each of us travel along our own road. The gift I received from them is the certainty that I can grow a blog that will help our planet and be my way of life.  Thank you, Pinch of Yum!!
  2. Gene@Hy.VeeLakevilleLife’s Pure Balance – I am lucky enough to call Gene Wood, Owner & CEO of Life’s Pure Balance a mentor and business partner.  With a background in chemical engineering, Gene created his signature product — Fruit & Vegetable Wash — which cleans the waxes and pesticides off your produce making it safe to eat and also delicious. Gene has been generous with his time and ideas.  He saw potential in me when it was just a shy whisper in my own ear.  The gift I received from Gene is watching and learning from his journey of creating a great, useful product to growing it to being sold all across the state of Minnesota.  Thank you, Gene Wood!!
  3. BNI.jpgFireside Chapter, BNI – Have you heard of the business networking organization, BNI?  Business Networking International was begun by Ivan Meisner in California and has grown globally. Minnesota celebrates the BNI philosophy — the benefit of business professionals networking in chapters focusing on relationship first, education next, with the intent of growing one’s business.  For solopreneurs like myself, Fireside gives me a powerful group of resources both for growing my brand and for my expanding network. Fireside is exceptional offering educational and networking groups beyond the weekly chapter meetings.  The gifts I have received from Fireside — in addition to business growth — include marketing mentoring, business strategy & presentation skills.  Thank you, Fireside BNI!!
  4. GoldenCircleSinekSimon Sinek –  True Confessions — In search of the latest knowledge about Parkinson’s disease and other brain research wanting to help my father to be as healthy as possible, I binge TED Talks. Perhaps you have seen one of  Sinek’s TED Talks, “How Great Leaders Inspire Action” or “Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe”. Sinek’s Golden Circle took me to the core of why I was inspired to create Pure.Better.Cleaner.  My Why is that I have reached a plateau from which I can see clearly that healing ourselves and our Earth is absolutely possible.  We have all that we need. My role is to inspire from a place of certainty that healing is possible, that it can and will happen. The gift I received from Simon Sinek is clarity of purpose for the next adventure of my life and for Pure.Better.Cleaner. Thank you, Simon Sinek!!
  5. EWGEWG.org – Environmental Working Group has been advocating for all things healthier for over 20 years.  The resources they provide on product ingredients, ongoing environmental issues, and civic action are solidly reliable.  I use EWG’s National Tap Water Database when I help a new client learn about what is in their drinking water, because their database provides complete information on contaminants and the latest research on what is, in fact, safe for us.  Environmental Working Group’s National Tap Water Database was recently updated and is an indispensable tool for educating people on the quality of the water they are drinking.  Thank you, EWG!!
  6. DrTerryWahlsDr. Terry Wahls – Terry Wahls beat MS. You heard that right.  Terry was diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis in 2000.  Continuing to decline while receiving conventional medical treatments, Dr. Terry Wahls began the research project of a lifetime — her own lifetime.  Dr. Wahls created The Wahls Protocol, a diet and nutrition protocol that not only stopped the progression of the disease but allowed her to heal, to return to the life she had before multiple sclerosis.  She began her research focusing on supplements to support the brain which evolved to the include best foods and vitamins for our brains. Her progressive multiple sclerosis in remission, Dr. Wahls now conducts ongoing clinical trials perfecting her protocol of nutrition and supplementation for those afflicted with multiple sclerosis. Everyone with a brain can benefit from the power of a nutritious diet. The gift my family and I received from Dr. Terry Wahls is a proven method to support our father who is dealing with Parkinson’s disease.  Thank you, Dr. Terry Wahls!!

May 2019 is your very best year yet!

Be well 🙂










The Next Choice

Here we are.  Wildfires consumed 9.7 million acres in the United States in 2017.  As I write this, thousands of acres are on fire in California, hundreds of homes have been burned to the ground, an entire town — people, animals, buildings & homes — is gone.  It’s just gone. Beyond the 76 lives lost in Paradise, California, first responders are looking for more than 1,200 people who are unaccounted for. Thousands of animals and people have been evacuated. Most of the state is under air quality advisories. My four year old nephew who lives in San Francisco, has not played outside for the past week because the air is too smoky.  

It will probably not come as a surprise to many, but the number of acres burned in the United States in 2017 came close to breaking a record. The numbers are preliminary and could change over the next few weeks as the data is finalized but the acres burned in the 50 states, 9,781,062, was the second highest since reliable records have been kept. That is 49 percent higher than the average over the last 10 years.

Wildfire Today, 10 January, 2018

I lived in Flagstaff, Arizona for three years, and during that time there were two wildfires in Oak Creek Canyon and many prescribed burns in the region. Oak Creek Canyon is a river gorge between Flagstaff & Sedona, Arizona. It is a stunning, steep canyon considered a smaller cousin to the Grand Canyon. The smoke from wildfires can be pervasive causing lung congestion even indoors. Though prescribed burns are planned out, winds can change on a burn day.

Smoke Drift – California Wildfires – 14 November, 2018 

Are we ready yet to make a shift? Have enough trees burned, enough people & animals died?  In the Camp Fire alone, more than 10,000 structures have been burned. How much will it cost to replace those buildings? How much does it cost to rebuild a town?

Oh, the insurance companies will pay to rebuild those homes, and the state will pay for this, and the federal government will pay for that.  Wait, we pay the state and the federal government. We pay the entire bill. Is that how you want to continue spending money?

What causes us to make the next big choice? What has to happen for you to choose a new path? When is the moment of change? What brings us to an epiphany? Are there specific steps needed to make a fundamental change for the better? Does this happen in just one moment? Or, has this change been calling for a long time?

Do we require hitting a brick wall or falling off the edge of a cliff before enough of us come to knowing? Does it require all of us?

What does making a fundamental change for the better require?

There are some who believe that we are now beyond the point where Earth’s climate will shift back.  There are some who believe the planet is now compensating permanently for the effects of global warming.  The Earth will be different from now on. Google “global warming”, and the search results read page after page of studies & articles concluding that humans are the main cause of climate change. Even if there is more to learn about the science of global warming, aren’t we beyond debating on principle and will take action?

Officially I do not have the education to make an informed pronouncement on this subject, but what I do know is that the earth can heal.  And, we can be a part of that healing.

If the root cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels which has produced an overabundance of carbon dioxide, then I know at least some things I can do to help. I pledge here that I will research this issue and share what I learn. I will help in that way too.

It is my hope that we choose this moment to be our epiphany. It is my hope that we choose to learn from these horrific fires and are inspired to make change. Let’s make this the last time we hold so much of the responsibility for such a catastrophic event..

Sperry Chalet in Glacier National Park was destroyed by fire, August 2017.
The remains of the Sperry Chalet after it burned in the Sprague Fire, pictured on Sept. 1, 2017. Courtesy Glacier National Park

Can we make a few changes now, then a few more and a few more? Instead of cleaning up such a substantial mess, why don’t we direct our resources out ahead of the crisis, out in front of the fire or the hurricane? Wouldn’t that make more sense than planning to evacuate from the next crisis?Maybe it’s when something pierces your heart.  That is when the epiphany happens. 

I am ready. I am ready today. I am ready this minute.

Because I don’t want to hear again the story of a border collie who was left behind.  Ella protected the one house left on the block in Paradise, California. She waited on the steps of the only home left in the neighborhood that didn’t burn down. Her toes were burned, but for two days she waited — alone — for her family to return.

Maybe it’s when something pierces your heart.  That is when the epiphany happens. 

Living in Flagstaff, Arizona, I witnessed prescribed burns and wildfires which affected my breathing – congested lungs, irritated throat and coughing.  I now use a FreshAir Surround air purifier from Vollara.  I am so grateful to have found this technology as we in Minnesota dealt with smoke from the forest fires in Canada most of the summer of 2017.  To learn more about the Space Certified technologies used in the FreshAir Surround, click here.

Be well 🙂


Sources: Wildfire Today, USA Today