Author Archive

Rocketman – Sir Elton John’s Life Story – 5 Stars

18/06/2019

RocketmanI just saw Rocketman tonight, and had to write a few words.  Sir Elton walks the talk. The movie is a statement of compassion, strength, endurance, and is an inspiration on many levels. This movie has the message of being grateful for what we have in our lives, and, to get to the business of living our lives.  Get those songs recorded, tell your loved ones how much you love them. Life is short – show up and be there…

Where am I going with this? Elton John did what it took to pull himself up. He checked himself into rehab and chose life.  He’s done the work, and it shows, and the world is better for it.

I had no idea about his life story, but wow – what a story of love, of perseverance, of forgiveness, of friendship. If you want a life lesson you’ll never forget, definitely see the film with the following caveat: The film has explicit sex scenes, which are not my cup of tea*, so buyer beware.

There are some great interviews but here is one in particular where Elton John makes some comments that reveal his altruistic,  strong character, and resilient nature. Actor Taron Egerton and Giles Martin are also in this roundtable interview on Apple Music.  There’s another good interview, believe it or not, on ET. As an aside, Elton John and Taron Egerton sing Tiny Dancer at the 75th Aides Foundation Fundraiser.
Through it all, you get that he’s just a real person wanting to do good in the world, and is not afraid to candidly share his life story with us. Good on ya Sir Elton John.

* Author’s note:  My practice is that I  don’t watch movies with explicit sex scenes, violence. There are rare cases when the message furthers the overall mission of the movie, and this is probably one of them.

Children need microbes — not antibiotics — to develop immunity, scientists say

17/06/2019

By Brandie Weikle
Special to The Star

20190617 Children Need MicrobesYes, it’s important to wash your hands. It’s critical during cold and flu season and especially if you visit someone at the hospital.The problem is — in the West at least — parents have taken the business of keeping clean way too far.
New science shows that blasting away tiny organisms called microbes with our hand sanitizers, antibacterial soaps and liberal doses of antibiotics is having a profoundly negative impact on our kids’ immune systems, read more..

 

Another Example of Meditation in Action

07/06/2019
Programs-Services-a_06

Image Credit: hlfinc.org

By Holistic Life Foundation
School Sends Kids to Meditation Instead of Detention, with Amazing Results

Traditionally when children act up in school, they would get detention or they get suspended. An elementary school in Baltimore has a far healthier approach, read more…

For more info: www.hlfinc.org

Learning Presence from Wilderness

07/06/2019

Outward Bound recently published a piece entitled  How to Learn Mindfulness from the Wilderness. I’ve been meditating since my early teens, and grew up spending most of my after-school hours in the woods and mountains of New Hampshire and later working for Outward Bound as an instructor and staff trainer. I’d spend weeks and months in the backcountry without site of a car or airplane in stunning mountains. After a week, the students and I were just starting to adjust to the quieter pace. After two weeks, we were in the groove and were in no rush to return to “civilization”.  Teaching out there helped me see more of the quiet mind in myself, and in others. It was a moving experience to see others sink into themselves, the environment and to connect more with each other.  So read on.. and enjoy this wonderful piece on connection, mindfulness and wilderness.
It motivated me to start Mountain Spirit USA in 1989 and then Mountain Spirit New Zealand with my wife on the South Island.
mtndharma-pondside-med
How to Learn Mindfulness from the Wilderness.
By Outward Bound Blog
On July 4, 1845, a 28-year old left his comfortable station in life and retreated to the woods. For the next two years, two months and two days, he lived in a cabin that he built himself, surviving on what he could gather with his own hands. His only companions were the books he brought, the birds on his window sill and the ruminations of his own mind. He lived alone and simply, recording his experience as he went along. His experiment was published under the title Walden and as you might know already read more…

Doing Good – A Myanmar Floating Hospital

06/02/2019

Maurice Machoud is doing good work, really good work. He’s a retired Swiss chemist and has had a 15 year dream to convert a luxury barge in Myanmar, into a floating hospital. And it’s happening! Marurice was a recent client of ours on Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters, where we went out for an afternoon sail. Learn more about his dream and his project below. (Image of the Floating Hospital to be added soon.)

 

 

Mountain Spirit New Zealand – A Video Snapshot

26/01/2019

Check out our new video which gives you an overview of what we’re up to, our goals and dreams to make Mountain Spirit a place where people can connect to nature, themselves and each other. The video was done by “The Master” *Ashley Leung. Ash did the ground work, all editing and production. Keep the good work Ash! Randall did the aerial footage, and Ash made magic with it.

*We feel very fortunate to have Ashley, his wife Autumn and their new daughter as family friends. We miss them them and look forward to their return to New Zealand.

Turning Down the Family Business

26/01/2019

Decisions on the Life Path
Felix is from Bavaria. He had a choice to make – Follow in his father’s footsteps, or follow his heart. Learn what he and his fiance decided to do!

 

NZ Crown Jewels for Sale to the Highest Bidder

22/01/2019

Half a Million Hectares, Sold
From Stuff.co.nz
New Zealanders have paid $65m to get rid of some of our most treasured landscapes, through an obscure process critics have described as a vast wave of privatization. Wealthy foreigners are snapping up valuable land once owned by the public, who in some cases paid to dispose of it. As gated estates and manicured golf courses spread through our wild places,  Charlie Mitchell investigates for Stuff.co.nz: Who owns the high country? Read more here…

Damper Bay, Paddock and Glendu Bay

Not far from the site of a new development for the very wealthy, golf course included. Here’s a shot prior to all that.

 

Editor’s Note: A bit of disclosure – My wife is South African, and I’m a Yank, and we bought an existing house and small bit of land in Hawea. So I’m guilty by association only in that I’m American. I believe in living lightly. We have an off-the-grid home and retreat centre, with gravity fed water and a small house. The scale and rate at which foreigners are snapping up New Zealand’s high country is appalling, and appears to be changing the very values of the country, by gentrification.

In Support of Time Out – The Kiwi Way

22/01/2019

In a busy world where taking time off is a difficult thing, it may be the most important thing.

I come from the Northeastern U.S., where there’s a strong “New England work ethic”, where if you’re not busy, you’re not amounting to anything. OK, a slight exaggeration, but there is an expectation of achieving, of going to one of the Ivy League Schools, and getting a respectable career with benefits.  Instead, I became a mountain guide. After graduating from the University of Utah, and an early career in the ski boot business I took a sharp left turn into the mountains and never returned, except for leading corporate team building programs for Outward Bound for a few years.

I’ve been living in New Zealand for over 10 years but a few exchanges on the phone last week really rocked me. I finally got an unexpected peek into Kiwi psyche about healthy priorities, of balancing work and spending quality down-time with family and friends,  taking a time out.

We’re really busy during the summer holiday season here in the Wanaka area. We run an off-the-grid Secluded Sanctuary called Mountain Spirit, which includes a BnB. We’re ramping up to run health and wellness programs on our land, and we run Lake Wanaka Yacht Charters. So the Christmas season is full-on for my wife and I and our 7yr old son as well.

We decided to block off  a couple of days right after Christmas, and take an  overnight on the charter boat to Lake Wanaka’s Paddock Bay to unplug. The inevitable happened when we got a few inquiries during that time for boat charters. When I explained we were taking some much needed time off, despite the holiday season being our busy time, without exception the callers responded with, “Good on ya, you need to pay attention to that family and take that time off. We’ll check in with you later.” (Which they did). Correct me if I’m wrong, (you Americans, from the NorthEast), if you were the caller would you not be surprised that a vendor was taking time off, and wouldn’t you think he was expected to be open and available when you call.? Instead of the “Good on ya”,  if my memory serves, the first response would not be one of support, rather: “Are you sure you can’t be available for tomorrow”? or, “Why are you not open?”

It was an eye opener. Three separate callers actually took it in stride and said “Of course you’re taking time off, have a good one.”

Not to slam Americans or anything, but it’s almost a cliche at this point – And God love Americans for all that we are, but taking a slow long holiday is not one of them. The American system is set up for a two week vacation, max. And that does not do justice to the country in which you’re visiting. It’s a bit of an insult actually. 

Time off during the busy season

Spending time with family on the boat when our To Do list is growing. Damn the torpedoes and head out anyway.

The only way to get more time off from the American workplace is to quit, or set up a longer travel itinerary between jobs, or be a CEO. So we can’t find fault with individual Americans, or can we?  I’m not sure – all I know is I was surprised to finally experience being given permission to take time off. I’ve been conditioned not to take time off.  To have someone say “it’s OK”,  is a eye opener for an American.

For those of us that made recreation our jobs, and travel came with the territory, we were lucky enough to be exposed to different perspectives in the world. It’s not just the Kiwi’s who value taking time off , more than do Americans. Most of the world does.

It’s All About Connecting

05/01/2019

Our mission at Mountain Spirit is about “facilitating connection to one’s self, each other and the natural world.” Yesterday, here in New Zealand,  I Children at Mountain Spirit, enjoying chicken energysnapped this shot of my son and couple of our guests cradling one of our chickens in the nearby hammock. The hammock happens to be next to the “chicken tractor” (movable chicken house) so at the moment so makes for fun relaxing hangout with chickens all underfoot.  The guests loved the chickens and were were visiting with them every spare moment. Connecting with nature is vital for children, whether it’s going for a walk in the woods, on a mountain ridge, taking them sailing or just spending time helping them collect the chickens’ eggs.  A good book about children and nature, mentioned quite a few times in this blog is Last Child in the Woods, by R. Louv, but there are also newer titles in print as well.