The chirping sounds of the crickets, the stutter of the woodpeckers, the fluttering of birds on the water and the faint hum of distant traffic muffled in the background all combine to let me know I am in my happy place.
At 117 acres, Bois-des-Esprit in South Winnipeg, is the largest remaining riverbank forest in the city (who do I thank for saving this piece of heaven?). You may bring your out of town guests to The Forks, but I bring mine to the woods. The beautiful tree carvings created to enchant and surprise you and pristine wooded surroundings make even the murky waters of the Seine River look lovely.
While I frequent Bois-des-Esprit multiple times a week, no two visits are the same as this perfect space offers an ever changing cornucopia of delights year round.
Today, for example my canine companion, Cosmo-Dawg and I started out for a early morning run – with the moon behind us and the sun rising in front we began the familiar path. When what to our wondering eyes should appear but a black and white skunk and I said, oh dear!
Now Cosmo-Dawg had never seen a skunk before and was quite intrigued, Cosmo advanced, skunk puffed up, I yelled and we all ran. It may be peaceful in Bois-Des-Esprit but it’s never dull.
Often we will encounter dear in the woods or a fawn on the trail, it’s such a pleasant surprise and we all stop and look at each other and try to figure out who is going to move first. I feel like it is their space we are encroaching in, so I wait for them to make their move, feeling privileged to watch their white tails as they take a few graceful strides and disappear in mere seconds.
But it is not just nature you see while in Esprit, I see couples nestled on benches, hard-core runners with their ear-buds in place, I see leisurely dog-walkers with pooper bags in hand and I see geo-cachers far off the trail crawling around in search of a treasure. Mostly, I see others who are loving and appreciating this space as much as I do. I see no-one that is cranky or miserable – no one, ever. It is a happy place.
Paddling through the woods, although challenging when water levels are low, is another fun way to explore. We have had to portage now and then and we sure scratched up the bottom of our canoe but it is worth it to have the opportunity to see the beavers and turtles and other water wildlife up close.
If you want to feel like a twelve year old again (not that I ever did this when I was twelve), hop on an off-road bike and take the monkey trails through the woods. Not only a test for your quads, these trails will challenge your core to the core as you navigate the tight turns around the trees and bump off those roots and stumps. Thirty minutes out there on the bike make this forty-something year old chick feel young again.
Off all the treasures that I have discovered in ‘my’ forest, Love Tree is my favorite, cast not by a human carver but by Mother Nature herself, this hidden gem inspired my year long “Love Everywhere Project.” Currently on day 342, this life-changing concept involves photo-chronicling love in the world, purposefully doing an act of service or sharing a story of someone who has done something loving. It has had ripples of positive effects in my life, in our community and even gloablly. Reaching far beyond my expectations, it further proved that some of my best thinking, idea-generating and productivity occurs in a place where I do nothing at all.
However you decide your enjoy time in Bois-des-Esprit (rollerblades highly discouraged and swimming definitely unpleasant – although Cosmo disagrees with the swimming part), I can guarantee you that now matter how you felt when you went into the forest, when you come out, you will feel different.
Without spending a nickel, without saying a word, your mood will be shifted and your spirit will be lifted by spending some time in this incredibly special place.
Bump in Shopping Carts on Purpose
Cindy Nachtigall intentionally bumps into others peoples shopping carts, but when you find out why she does it, I think it will make you smile!
When Cindy notices a parent struggling with an uncooperative little one in the store, she will ‘accidently’ bump in their shopping cart and remark to the parent what I beautiful child they have and comment on how proud they must be. She finds that when she does this the energy completely changes and the parents seems to forget how mad they were at their child.
Love, love, love this idea Cindy. It makes me wonder how we can all change up the energy when the negative vibes seem to be winning.
A Few Ideas to Spread Love Everywhere
- Write some words of hope on some stones and leave them outside a hospital, school or doctor’s office
- Grab a bag and pick up some litter
- Send a anonymous card to something who could use a little pick-me-up
- Go put an unsolicited recommendation on someone’s LinkedIn profile
- Put a love note into your honey’s lunch, computer bag or car
- Write down 5 great things about your kids, try chalking it onto their bedroom wall for a big surprise!
- Leave a BIG tip, go ahead just once do it!
- On a deck of card, start writing down something you love about your partner (or child, or friend) – what a great gift that would be
- Help without being asked
- Do something you’ve been ‘meaning to do’ for a long time ie connect with a friend, take you Mom out to lunch
“Research shows that people form first impressions about the likeability and trustworthiness of another person very quickly,” said Brown. “This determination of ‘OK’ or ‘not OK’ happens instantaneously in the deep unconscious. Once this impression is made, it is almost impossible to change.”
According to a widely cited study by UCLA professor Albert Mehrabian, body language accounts for an overwhelming 55 percent of that impression. By comparison, 38 percent of a first impression comes from the tone of your voice and a mere seven percent from your actual words.
Body language includes how we position our bodies (including how close we stand or sit to someone), how we use our hands (including shaking hands), how people perceive our facial expressions (especially our eyes), how we touch ourselves and others, and how our bodies connect with items like pens, eyeglasses, jewelry or even the change in our pockets. It can include breathing rate and perspiration.
“If the person you are meeting is somber and guarded,” said Brown, “you will never persuade them by being cheerful and demonstrative. That will only set off their alarms.
“If you want to get different results from your efforts to persuade others, you need to do things differently,” said Brown. “To get better results in the area of business development, one of the most effective things you can do is to change your body language. With an understanding of how body language works, you can talk just about anyone into anything.”
How to interpret a handshake
Brown discussed a number of circumstances where it can be useful to understand and correctly respond to another person’s body language.
The handshake, for example, is the standard greeting in business situations. The ideal handshake is the “equal shake,” where the clasp is vertical and the grasp is firm. It says that you are meeting on common ground and want a nice, even interaction.
When the other person shakes your hand and turns their palm down, they want to dominate the interaction. The same holds true for a ‘bone crusher.’ When the person turns their palm up, they are welcoming and likely to do what you want. A limp ‘dead fish’ handshake indicates a lack of backbone. A person who shakes hand with just the fingertips is unlikely to want to do business with you.
Reading and responding to body language
An effective persuader will pay close attention to the body language of the person he or she is trying to persuade, and then mimic that body language. “People like and trust people whom they perceive to be similar to themselves,” said Brown. “The more you can be like the person you are dealing with, the more you will be able to establish essential rapport.”
Good friends and romantic partners, for example, tend to do this naturally.
Is the person you are sitting across from soft-spoken? Does he speak slowly, smile and laugh a lot? Is his notepad on the desk or his lap, does he take copious notes, are his legs crossed, is he leaning forward or backward? These are important things to notice and reflect in your own body language.
Two terms often heard in the field of neurolinguistics are mirroring and matching. “Mirroring occurs when you copy a person’s body language as if you were that person’s reflection in a mirror,” said Brown. “If the person you are facing leans to the left, for example, you lean to the right. In other words, you might both lean towards the door.
“Precisely mirroring another person at exactly the same time can be too intense,” said Brown. “It can actually backfire by making the person too uncomfortable. The only time mirroring works well is when you are sitting across from someone who is very stiff and symmetrical.”
Almost always, you want to match rather than mirror the person you are speaking with. “When you match, you copy the person more loosely,” said Brown. “If the person you are facing leans to the left, you lean to your left – the other way from a mirror image. If the other person leans towards the door, you would lean away from the door.
“You don’t want to do this immediately after the other person moves,” said Brown, “but perhaps five or ten seconds later, or when it is your turn to speak.
“When having a conversation, it is a good idea to stand or sit at a 45-degree angle to the person on whom you want to make a positive impression,” said Brown. “Standing or sitting right across from someone and staring them straight in the eye can be seen as confrontational and put that person on his or her guard, rather than creating rapport.”
* Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), conferred by the National Speakers Association is the speaking profession’s international measure of professional platform proficiency. Less than 10 percent of speakers have earned this credential and are recognized as some of the best in their fields. Stephanie was one of only five professional speakers in Canada (and the only woman) to attain this designation in 2013.