Shinrin-Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing 🌿🍃💚

Colorado, Mind

Forest baths are a cornerstone of Japanese preventative medicine.


Forest bathing emerged in Japan in the 1980s as a physiological and psychological exercise called shinrin-yoku (“forest bathing” or “taking in the forest atmosphere”). 


Forest bathing or forest therapy means taking in, with all of one’s senses, the forest atmosphere. Shinrin-yoku is the conscious and contemplative practice of being immersed in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings of the forest. The practice was developed in Japan during the 1980s, with Japan adopting the practice into its national health program in 1982. Forest baths have since become a cornerstone of preventative healthcare and healing in Japanese medicine.

Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.

Benefits of Forest Bathing

Researchers, primarily in Japan and South Korea, have established a growing body of scientific literature on the diverse health benefits of shinrin-yoku.

Spending time amongst the trees has calming neuro-psychological effects through changes in the nervous system, reducing the stress hormone – cortisol – and boosting the immune system. Shinrin-yoku has resulted in decreases in stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness amongst study participants. Additionally, after just 15 minutes of forest bathing, blood pressure drops, stress levels are reduced, and concentration and mental clarity improve.

There are now 44 accredited Shinrin-Yoku forests in Japan, with the research conducted helping to establish Shinrin-Yoku and forest therapy throughout the world. 

This is not exercise, or hiking, or jogging. It is simply being in nature, connecting with it through our senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Shinrin-yoku is like a bridge. By opening our senses, it bridges the gap between us and the natural world.

Dr. Qing Li’s Guide to Forest Medicine

From FOREST BATHING: How Trees Can Help You Find Health and Happiness by Dr. Qing Li, published on April 17, 2018 by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC. Copyright © Qing Li, 2018.

First, find a spot. Make sure you have left your phone and camera behind. You are going to be walking aimlessly and slowly. You don’t need any devices. Let your body be your guide. Listen to where it wants to take you. Follow your nose. And take your time. It doesn’t matter if you don’t get anywhere. You are not going anywhere. You are savoring the sounds, smells, and sights of nature and letting the forest in.

The key to unlocking the power of the forest is in the five senses. Let nature enter through your ears, eyes, nose, mouth, hands and feet. Listen to the birds singing and the breeze rustling in the leaves of the trees. Look at the different greens of the trees and the sunlight filtering through the branches. Smell the fragrance of the forest and breathe in the natural aromatherapy of phytoncides. Taste the freshness of the air as you take deep breaths. Place your hands on the trunk of a tree. Dip your fingers or toes in a stream. Lie on the ground. Drink in the flavor of the forest and release your sense of joy and calm. This is your sixth sense, a state of mind. Now you have connected with nature. You have crossed the bridge to happiness.

When it comes to finding calm and relaxation, there is no one-size-fits-all solution – it differs from person to person. It is important to find a place that suits you. If you love the smell of damp soil, you will be most relaxed where the natural landscape provides it. Then the effects of the forest will be more powerful. Maybe you have a place in the countryside that reminds you of your childhood or of happy times in the past. These places will be special to you and your connection with them will be strong.

When you have been busy at work all week, it can be hard to slow down. You may have been rushing around so much you no longer know how to stand still. Walking with a guide who is a trained forest therapist can help you feel more comfortable and find the right environment to fit your needs. In one of my favorite forests, Iinan Furusato-no-Mori, the forest-therapy program includes guided walks. Doctors are on hand to offer general health assessments. When you arrive, you are given a physical health check and a psychological questionnaire. The therapist then works out the best walking plan for you.

But it is just as easy to forest-bathe without a guide. And there are many different activities you can do in the forest that will help you to relax and to connect with nature. Here are some of the things people do: forest walking, yoga, eating in the forest, hot-spring therapy, T’ai chi, meditation, breathing exercises, aromatherapy, art classes and pottery, Nordic walking and plant observation. It doesn’t matter how fit – or unfit – you are. Shinrin-yoku is suitable for any level of fitness.

You can forest-bathe anywhere in the world – wherever there are trees; in hot weather or in cold; in rain, sunshine or snow. You don’t even need a forest. Once you have learned how to do it, you can do shinrin-yoku anywhere – in a nearby park or in your garden. Look for a place where there are trees, and off you go!

Elise’s Tips for Forest Bathing

  • Unplug. Leave behind your phone, or other distractions, so you can be fully present in the experience.
  • Wander. Allow yourself to leave behind your goals & expectations, following your body’s natural compass.
  • Pause. Take time to look more closely at your surroundings.

I love collecting plants and using them as bookmarks! That way I’m able to preserve a piece of a certain place and take it with me! Thanks babe for picking this for me 🙂

Rocky Mountain Roastery – Granby, CO

Colorado, Food & Beverage

A fine café with patio dining & a honey shop ☕️🍯

I’m glad that I LOVE Rocky Mountain coffee! We had an amazing breakfast here on the patio.

Thanks to Gabe for recommending the strawberry lemonade & the mint caramels. I also loved connecting with this 11-year-old born-again young man who shared this verse with me…

“‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. ‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no-one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: love each other.”
‭‭John‬ ‭15:1-17‬ ‭

Wildfire Restaurant – Idaho Springs, Colorado

Colorado, Food & Beverage

The perfect pitstop on the way to the mountains! 🏔

It’s my first time to Colorado and I’m so excited to be here! We flew into Denver and decided to stop for dinner on the way up to Rocky Mountains. We pulled over in Idaho Springs, which is famous for being where the Gold Rush began.

It’s so nice here in Colorado during the summer, so we enjoyed the outdoor seating. After a long day of travel, we wanted a hearty meal. Wildfire Restaurant was the perfect homestyle restaurant, advertising Chicken Fried Steak on the window. I also loved their original Hilldaddy’s Wildfire Restaurant Chipotle Hot Sauce.

Thanks for having us! We are so excited to explore more here – my husband is showing me his old stomping grounds & I’m loving it!


God of Restoration


God is a Restorer 💚

The enemy comes to kill, steal & destroy – but doesn’t pale in comparison to the power & might of the Almighty.

In this life, challenges are planned for our development, growth & testing. However, God uses all things for good. The enemy wants to remind us of our stumbling blocks, of our past mistakes, and of our evil desires – but God wants us to see ourselves & others in His light.

God doesn’t see you as an addict. God doesn’t see you as violent. God doesn’t see you as a slave. God sees you as His perfect child.

Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

We all have our own shortcomings, but we have to keep in mind that were perfectly designed by God. Allowing ourselves to be imperfect is freeing. We can make space for who God is.

It forces us to rely on God’s grace because we simply do not measure up. And we cannot ever measure up on our own. We need God’s goodness to fill in the spaces where we are lacking.

It forces us to admit: I have earned nothing, but have only received what was freely given.

Queen Emma Summer Palace – Nuʻuanu, Oʻahu

Hawaii, Museums

Tour the Summer Home used by Queen Emma & her family as a retreat from Palace life in hot & dusty Honolulu.

It is starting to heat up here in the Pacific! I’ve been wanting to visit the Queen Emma Summer Palace for a while & was in search of something cool to do (literally). Located just ten minutes from Downtown Honolulu, this historic retreat worked out perfectly! After looking around the home & gift shop, the terrace and surrounding botanical garden is a beautiful space to relax.

Mahalo to the Daughters of Hawai’i for maintaining this wonderful estate to be shared with future generations and visitors alike.


Open Daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

$10 General Admission / $8 Kama’aina / $1 Children

2913 Pali Highway

Honolulu, HI 96817

Built in 1848


The home, named The Southern Cross, was built in 1848 by John Lewis, a Honolulu businessman, who purchased the property from the Hawaiian Government. Lewis, who wanted a New England-style home, had the house frame and siding cut in Boston and shipped to Hawaii via Cape Horn. The structure is one of the few remaining examples of Greek Revival architecture in the islands.

In 1850, the property was sold to Queen Emma’s uncle, John Young II, for $6,000 and given the name Hānaiakamalama – after his ancestral home on the Island of Hawai’i. In 1857, Young, then childless, willed the home to young Emma. It was at Hānaiakamalama that King Kamehameha IV, Queen Emma, and their young son, Prince Albert Edward, enjoyed the cool breeze of Nu’uanu and bonded as a family.

After Emma’s death in 1885, the home was purchased by the monarchial government and leased. In the early 1900’s, the property was owned by the Territorial government. Plans brewing to turn the property into a park were to threaten the historic home; thus, the Daughters of Hawai’i intervened to restore and furnish the building to open it as a museum.

The Daughters of Hawai’i

The Daughters of Hawai’i manages and maintains this home and Hulihe’e Palace in Kailua-Kona. Both properties are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Foreseeing the loss of Hawaiian culture and historic sites, seven women founded the Daughters of Hawai’i in 1903 to “perpetuate the memory and spirit of old Hawai’i and of historic facts and to preserve the nomenclature and correct pronunciation of the Hawaiian language.” Members throughout the world continue this mission today.

Edinburgh Ballroom

The ballroom at the rear of the home was built in 1869 by Queen Emma as an addition. This room was built in honor of the Duke of Edinburgh, the first prince from Europe to visit the Hawaiian Kingdom.

This ballroom has beautiful chandeliers, wallpaper & carpeting. Another notable feature is the handblown concave and convex glass panes, which are rare.


The home features a number of portraits of past rulers of the Kingdom of Hawai’i. Many of the monarchs focused on strengthening Hawai’i as an independent nation and traveling abroad to secure ties with foreign countries. Each portrait on the wall of the home represents the monarchial era surrounding the furnishing of the Palace, and helps give insight into what Hawai’i was like during the life of Queen Emma.

Cloak Room

Kahili served to formally identify the ruling class at ceremonies and celebrations. The royal feather cloak or ‘ahu ‘ula is constructed of very fine ‘olonā cordage holding clusters of thousands of tiny red feathers of the native ‘i’iwi and yellow feathers of the native mamo – both of which are now extinct. The cloak make its way to St. Augustine’s Theological Seminary at Canterbury, England where it was later purchased by the Hite Family and donated by Mrs. Charles Hite to the Daughters of Hawai’i.

The koa cabinet displays feather capes which were worn across the shoulders of royal women and chiefs.

The large Hawaiian wooden bowls or ‘umeke were used for housekeeping purposes and to store poi and other foods. ‘Umeke were also stacked like a chest of drawers to store clothing and bedding.

Queen Emma’s Case

Queen Consort Emma was born in 1836 to High Hawaiian Chief George Na’ea and Fanny Young. At her birth, she became the hanai (adopted) daughter to her mother’s sister, Grace Young, and husband, Dr. Thomas Rooke.

As a young girl, Emma attended the Chief’s Children School, where she met her future husband, Alexander. When the school closed in 1850, she continued her studies with a private tutor and spent a great deal of time with her father at his medical dispensary. Some of her hobbies included sewing, playing piano, and horseback riding.

Upon Alexander’s return from his travels abroad, and after taking the throne, he courted Emma for her hand in marriage. The young couple married in 1856, and their son was born two years later.


Lei Hulu

Lei Hulu, or feather lei, were commonly worn around the neck or head by royal women.

Lei niho palaoa (unpictured) are lei made of long strands of braided hair and hold a hook-shaped piece of ivory made from a sperm whale tooth.



Kapa, or tapa, usually refers to the fabric made from tree bark and worn as clothing or used as blankets.

Christening Vessel

The silver christening vessel was a gift from Queen Victoria of England, the little Prince’s godmother. It was sent to Hawai’i with holy water for his baptism.

King Kamehameha IV & Queen Emma were responsible for bringing the Anglican Church to Hawai’i. King Kamehameha IV also dedicated most of his final months to translating the Anglican Book of Common Prayer into the Hawaiian language. The first edition of his translation was published prior to Queen Emma’s departure to Europe. She took copies with her and gave them as gifts on her journey.

Heir to the Hawaiian Monarchy

Prince Albert Edward Kauikeaouli Kaleiopapa Kamehameha

“Haku” was the only son of King Kamehameha IV & Queen Consort Emma. His godmother was Queen Victoria II of England. Tragically, the young prince passed away at the age of four from brain fever.

Queen Emma’s koa bed with spool posts and beaded trim.
Prince Albert’s koa four poster crib, the work of Wilhem Fischer. It is placed under a koa diadem once used to support moisquito netting.
Prince Albert Edward’s cradle, commissioned by the King and Queen at his birth, is regarded as a state treasure and memorial to the Prince. It was designed and built by German craftsman Wilhelm Fischer of four native woods – koa, kou, milo, and kamani.

The Little Prince

On the top shelf of the display cabinet is a miniature chief’s helmet made from ‘ie’ie rootlets. This small headpiece or mahiole is without feathers and is said to have been made for the Prince. The display cabinet also holds Prince Albert Edward’s red fireman’s jacket, silver cup, and other personal effects.

Prince Albert Edward’s bathtub of porcelain in a koa stand (unpictured) was a gift of a Chinese emperor.

Front Bedroom

Originally in the home, this room was used as a dining room. It is believed that the cook house and maid quarters would have been located outside near Prince Albert’s Terrace. When Queen Emma returns to this home, after losing her son and husband, she turns this room into her bedroom. It is unknown how the room would have been set up or what furniture was here.

Queen Emma’s sleigh bed, another fine koa piece by Wilhelm Fischer, is decorated with a crown of inlaid mother-of-pearl and brass. An identical bed was made for Kamehameha IV.

The large four poster bed is made out of koa wood and was commissioned by Kamehameha III. Acorns represents fertility, feathers represents royalty, pineapple represents hospitality, and the eagles clawing at the base of the bed represents strength. This bed later became Queen Emma’s.


In 1865, Queen Emma began her mission to raise money to build the first Anglican cathedral in Hawai’i. She set sail to England and upon her arrival was presented to Queen Victoria. The two women befriended each other, and Emma was gifted with a bracelet containing a lock of Queen Victoria’s hair. She also visited France, where she met the Emperor Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie, from whom she received the stereopticon and matching chair.

During her time home, she was very much a hostess. She received the tiger claw necklace with rolled gold and seed pearls from a maharajah of India. She also received the amethyst bracelet from the Duke of Edinburgh.

On her stop through the United States, she purchased the Collard & Collard piano, which she later donated to Saint Andrew’s Priory for Girls.

Queen Emma’s Legacy

Queen Emma was known as the Queen of People’s Hearts, and was dedicated to the health, education, and future generations of her people. Emma and Alexander founded

Emma and Alexander founded the Queen’s Medical Center, with concern for the Native people of Hawai’i during a time when epidemics were spreading through the islands. They used money from their personal funds in addition to asking friends for donations. The hospital is the oldest and largest in Hawai’i, with 70 locations throughout the Islands.

At the request of King Kamehameha IV and Queen Emma, in 1863, St. Alban’s College in Pauoa, O’ahu was established and later became ‘Iolani School.

After losing her son and husband, and having no room on the royal burial grounds (Pohukaina), Queen Emma wanted to build a mausoleum for them. Kamehameha V wanted the Kamehameha family buried there, and soon it became the royal mausoleum. In 1863, Mauna Ala was founded and after being completed, Emma is said to have stayed by her family for two weeks, mourning their deaths.

During Queen Emma’s travel abroad, she managed to raise $16,000 to use in the building of St. Andrew’s Cathedral. She would also found the Priory for Girls, which remains an all-girl school today in honor of her legacy.

Queen Emma was said to have over 600 books in her personal collection and, upon passing, she left them to the Honolulu Library and Reading Room Association – which helped the Hawaii State Library System grow to where it is today.

Interview with Toqa Designer, Aiala


The Hawaii local created the future of runway with a fashion film

I grew up with one of the designers of Toqa, Aiala, and wanted to feature their newest collection: Moodyisle! I am so proud of her & so excited to feature my interview with her on her life as a young designer.

Can you tell me a little about your creative process? 

Each collection for me starts with daydreaming and adventuring. Then comes a lot of research, doodles, sourcing fabric, patternmaking, textile manipulation, fitting, sizing, then photographing & filming the final product. Each part is really exciting to me. I love the freedom at the start of every project we do, the big ideas and world building that may or may never come to fruition. And when the clothes or objects are finalized, next comes showing it in that world-which is the cherry on top! 

Being born into a family of artists, was your style shaped by your upbringing? 

Definitely. Growing up my parents gave me the freedom to follow my passions. They set an example for craft and perseverance. Just watching what they accomplish as artists made me believe in myself. I look up to them so incredibly much. Their work inspires me and I feel bLeSS3d to have been raised by them. 

How has your label evolved & what can we expect next?

Toqa started as a caterpillar and I think the next collection will be the full metamorphosis into a butterfly. Every step of the way we’ve repeatedly honed down on what we are trying to say with our art. Coming up early next year is our biggest show yet…  All I can say for now is stay tuned!!

About Toqa

Toqa is a sustainable high fashion label focused on Sport Resort. To create their collections, Toqa weaves together a unique aesthetic, a deep appreciation for community, and collaboration as a source of genuine tropical production. They honor the conversational culture that has ultimately shaped their output and aim to be inclusive, minimize environmental impact, and promote alternative methods of production.



Working in conjunction with El Nido Resorts and Ten Knots Development Corporation, Toqa created Moodyisle, which combines community, costuming, and cinema to expand the island identity through sustainable high fashion. Focused on providing an interdisciplinary experience, Toqa hoped to create the perfect runway experience, providing a front row seat for anyone who wanted it. 

Featured cast members include games and marine sportsmen, housekeepers, environmental officers, bangkeros (boatmen), butchers, and landscapers. These collaborators provided local knowledge of El Nido, as each island has its own charm, beauty, and personality. They also helped craft the narrative, characters, and world that you see portrayed in Moodyisle. 

See more of the story behind Moodyisle.

Meet Me at The Meat Market by Elizabeth Kent

Fashion, Reform

These wearable art pieces were created to call attention to the horrors of human trafficking.

Mark’s Garage, Honolulu

World-wide, human trafficking is a multi-billion dollar a year industry. Traffickers exploit people in different ways for labor and commercial sex. Imagine being vulnerable and then letting down your guard – trusting someone, putting your faith and trust in that person – and then being abused and subjected to forced labor or to turn tricks. It’s horrible. Unfortunately, we are not immune to this social disease here in paradise.

“Meet Me at The Meat Market” by Elizabeth Kent is a series that incorporates intimate apparel that has been dyed to look like meat at various stages of decay. We must remain vigilant to protect both those at risk and our society at large.


Located adjacent to Downtown Honolulu is Chinatown. In recent years, the area has been redeveloped into a Culture and Arts District. Throughout Honolulu’s Chinatown, you’ll find iconic establishments and stumble upon hidden gems. From classic lei stands to legendary eateries to herbal medicine shops, this historic and evolving neighborhood is a center for commerce.

However, Chinatown has a very enmeshed history with the sex trade. Now more than ever, Miya is taking a stand against Anti-Asian Violence and we stand with all who have been sexualized or dehumanized as a result of crime & violence.

Find historical placards around Honolulu’s Chinatown

Chinatown had acquired a reputation as a red light district even before World War II, when the military and the police regulated the brothel industry. Immediately after the war, the local authorities outlawed prostitution and closed all the Chinatown brothels. Still segments of the sex industry remained. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Chinatown venues began featuring adult films and nude dancing as mainstream entertainment migrated to Waikiki and the suburbs. The Risque Theater and Bookstore that featured pornographic films and magazines exemplified the shift in the neighborhood when it opened in 1970. The Risque prospered for almost 25 years until a fire gutted the building in 2004. The Marquee still remains.

Read about a former brothel in Wahiawa.

Remnants of Honolulu’s Red Light District still remain today.

If you’re interested in learning more about sex trafficking, order The Status of Women today on Amazon.

Don’t Let Discouragement Win


The enemy comes to steal our Hope because it’s effective…

If you have a dream, one that could make a positive difference, you will likely face opposition – even from the least likely of sources. I believe that all the trials we face ultimately help to develop us into who God intends for us to be.

So how do you properly respond to this?

I think it’s important for us to remember that facing opposition doesn’t mean that we are bad or wrong. Rather, when the enemy comes against us – the reasoning is quite the opposite. For the enemy does not come for anything that isn’t worthwhile; he works hardest to tear down the ones who are working for God. Too often, we have seen amazing ministries lose traction because of sin committed by their leadership. However, we must not turn away from people when they err. Instead, we must lean into them even more and give them the forgiveness, understanding, and love that we enjoy from God.

As believers, we choose to fix ourselves on the only truly firm foundation. We can overcome all discouragement, trials, and enemies through the power of Christ Jesus. Look back on how far you’ve come, remember your why, and ask God to get you through! I will build my life upon your love it is a firm foundation. I will put my trust in you alone & I will not be shaken.