Tag Archives: Kevin mcGrath

Creative Inspiration: Sticks & Stones, by Kevin McGrath

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While many people are busy leveling their yards and trying to get the edges straight, spending countless hours making sure all the bushes and plants line up in a nice orderly fashion, clearing unwanted stones and dead wood, I am adding stones and wood, and creating surfaces both below and above ground level.

 
In retrospect, I was inspired by several factors. All of my life I have been in love with both dead and decaying wood and stones. A friend recently told me she believes my stone crush stems from my Irish ancestry. After all, Ireland is a country built with stone – stone fences, cobblestone streets, buildings and castles of granite, and the fields are scattered with outcroppings of this natural rock.
Each hardened sphere is unique in size, shape, color and weight. Especially when wet, their radiance shimmers and dances, exploding with a wide spectrum of color that tingles the senses. Dead and decaying wood are more subtly hued with grays and browns; however, they can often be seen joining forces with lichen and mosses to create a beautifully colored landscape.

 

I have always enjoyed seeing downed branches or trees in their artistic poses, curving and twisting as if in a snapshot of a wooded kind of ballet. Unearthed roots especially excite me, as this secret dark society, which usually lives underground, is finally revealed for all to see. If my stone love stems from my Gaelic descent, then perhaps my wood infatuation is derived from my Native American roots.

 
One can never be sure about these things of course, but I do know that decaying wood and stones have been favorites of mine since childhood. I know my most recent creative inspiration for incorporating these two natural wonders was inspired by a recent trip to New York’s Central Park. My son and I spent an afternoon there, frolicking along streams and through woods, up hills and down slopes, as we meandered along the winding paths.

 

This trip inspired me to take the things I love and, in a micro sort of way, create this hobbit type world in my own backyard. Inspiration can come from all sorts of things, whether from within, where the genes of a distant relative seek expression, or a place that draws you in and makes an impression to the point that you want to recreate it in your own way in a nearby location, where you can see the things you love spread out before you. I believe the most important point, however, is to listen to these urges and see what they bring you.

 
Given his fondness for sticks and stones, Kevin McGrath has been called by many names and is fine with that.

Reprinted with permission from the Summer 2010 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2010. All rights reserved.

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Gifts from Nature: Autumn’s Look Within, by Kevin McGrath

As I sit amongst the trees on the banks of the Chocolay River, on this summer-like autumn day, gazing at the placid lifeblood of this Greatest Lake of ours, I can’t help but realize the correlation between the trees’ evolution with nature’s flow, dropping their color and beauty to become future fertilizer and soil, their trunks and branches sending energy inward and down toward their root systems, and us humans sending our kids and students back to school.

This back-to-basics time, working on a core human feature – our brains, can be likened to the inward journey of our hardwood brethren, the aspens, tamaracks and birches, to name a few, as we potentially learn to reclaim ourselves from the inside out.

For me, as I contemplate this renewal, I ask myself, “Am I living up to my personal standards? Am I living life on my terms? Am I being the person I truly want to be?”

I have more questions than answers at this point, but as fall starts giving way to winter, my contemplation period can develop into devising a plan in early winter, so that sometime during the new year, a personal yearly manifesto is constructed and written down, enabling me to look back at it when the need is there. It’s a New Year’s resolution of sorts on how I plan on being a better person. I observe shortcomings in myself and attempt to rectify them through new actions.

For example, I never used to dance. Somewhere along the line in growing up, my perception was that real men didn’t dance. Even though it looked like a lot of fun, I avoided dancing at all cost. I was afraid of appearing vulnerable and inept, and becoming the target of jokes.

As I turned middle aged, I had an a-ha moment, realizing “Who cares what others think or say? Deep down I want to dance!” Now I dance whenever I can, and to help with my two left feet, I started taking Zumba, an exercise dance class, where to my surprise I discovered I love it, even though I’m often the only male there. I move a little more smoothly now, and it’s really helped my city league basketball game.

So as I take this time to evaluate where I am in life, like the trees focusing inward and our schoolchildren going back to learning, I look to this time of renewal to help tweak the real me into becoming the person who feels completely happy and comfortable with himself.

Kevin McGrath can be found dancing amongst the trees, tweaking the direction of his life, or as Jim Carey told Marshall University graduates, “hitting the reset button as often as it takes” to become the true him.

Reprinted with permission from Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, Fall 2014 issue, copyright 2014, Intuitive Learning Creations.

*Did you know you can find exclusive Solar Products for the U.P. online at www.upgreen.org? Great hiking and off-grid products included!

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Gifts from Nature: Mid City Gem, by Kevin McGrath

I am torn about writing the following, as the low number of people that use the area I’m about to describe is one reason it’s such a gem.  We are often confronted with this catch-22 in the U.P., which has many treasured local spots we might hope to keep to ourselves.  This selfishness is unhealthy and far too prevalent in current society.  The Native American concept of un-ownable land makes good sense, allowing everyone to share in its abundance.

So I’m going ahead and sharing information on one of my favorite hiking and cross-country ski trails which is hidden in plain sight – the Fit Strip, a half-mile by half-mile plot of land bordering Park Cemetery.  On a first-of-spring jaunt through this easy, meandering trail winding past stunning white pines and other conifers, maples and birch, a jogger approached. He pointed and asked whether I saw the red fox grazing just fifty feet off the path.  We both stopped and enjoyed the view for a moment before this sleek critter with a white patch on the tip of its full tail slipped back into denser thicket.

The park is home to an array of four-legged foragers, including deer, skunk, raccoon, squirrel, chipmunk, and mouse.  I’m always pleasantly surprised when I venture into this woodsy park.  Nearly every year brings a new and exciting sighting. Once while traversing the soft wood chip trail, I turned a sharp corner and spotted a great horned owl a mere twenty feet away, busily devouring a chippy or mouse.  He seemed perturbed by my sudden appearance, yet determined to finish his delectable meal.  I stopped quickly and slowly backed away around the same corner so I could watch him without triggering his early departure. He turned his head toward me with an intensely fierce stare that penetrated my being, and then continued shredding the helpless rodent.

Several years ago, a six-hundred pound moose yearling wandered into this forest haven and claimed it as home.  Park Cemetery offers three beautiful ponds filled with water lilies, so this massive adolescent would sleep in the fit strip, forage, and then go to the pond to drink and feast.  At first a handful of us watched his every move. Then the crowds grew each week until finally, after several months, hundreds would await his timely arrival. This gentle giant had to navigate through the crowds three times a day, causing concern from local authorities about possible danger.

These crowds are not what I am seeking, but if you are looking for a close-to-home, nature-filled, peaceful adventure, this mid-city gem is worth the trip.  It offers entrance from every side and trails that wind gracefully through a gently sloped city forest of endless nature-watching possibilities.

To contact Kevin McGrath, see-male him hiking about enjoying the great outdoors.

This article was reprinted with permission from the Spring 2014 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2014. All rights reserved.

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Gifts from Nature: Take A Hike

by Kevin McGrath

The last several days had been downright frigid, with temperatures hovering at zero and below.  So when I looked outside on a mid-January Saturday and saw the sun shining, I knew I had to get outside to enjoy it.  Twenty-three is what the thermometer was showing and like most of us living in these north woods would say, it felt like spring.  So I jumped into my car and headed to the Dead River Falls where I usually enjoy a nice summer hike and also a fall excursion with all its colorful grandeur.

This was actually my first trip to this hidden gem during the winter months.  I was excited so I eagerly proceeded, camera in hand, wondering what this season had to offer.  After climbing the somewhat steep but level snow-covered path leading to the trail head, it was clear the snow surely made it slower going.  Upon entering the beginning of the trail, I was greeted by a pileated woodpecker busily chipping away at a tree in search of a mid-afternoon meal.  He was working so hard he didn’t even notice me as I got my camera out and took several photos of his colorful plumage.  I knew at that moment I was where I needed to be.

Continuing on my way down the slope, I could hear the powerful flow of the water long before I could see it.  Reaching the bottom of the hill, I entered an opening where the rushing life source was capped and blanketed with snowy-white curved and smooth drifts creating a beautiful landscape only seen in paintings.  I took another picture.  The air was fresh and pure, nourishing my olfactory senses as I proceeded upstream along the picturesque banks.

Navigating a steep climb, I maneuvered myself to the top of the first of a series of waterfalls.  I sat there quite a while, taking in all the splendor of the moment.  After snapping several more photos, I continued my uplifting journey in this postcard-worthy adventure, reaching another series of iced-over falls whose gurgling, powerful, fast-moving liquid is only visible here and there at the very bottom, where openings from windblown snow hadn’t yet created the ice shelves that encased the rest.

Wanting to get closer but not being able to judge clearly where water and land divide, given all the drifting and covered surfaces, I slowly, cautiously, followed others’ footsteps on the trail   I sat and listened to the winter birds busy above in the treetops.  Soaking in this fine day, I continue a little further before deciding it was time to turn back and retrace my steps as the sun began slowly to sink and a chill that wasn’t around at the start of this local thrill became a noticeable temperature drop.

Heading in the opposite direction brought new perspectives on this endeavor so I had to stop to take more photos.  This popular summer haven for locals is now deserted, offering me this entire cornucopia of delight all to myself.  I exited fully nourished, inspiration flowing through my veins like the water rushing over the hidden stones below.

Kevin McGrath seeks inspiration wherever it is calling from, but particularly enjoys receiving it from nature.

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Celebrating Our Fifth Anniversary!

by Roslyn McGrath

Anniversaries can be a great opportunity to reflect upon and celebrate what got you there, as well as what is and what can be, and refine and recommit to your vision of what you’re celebrating as you move forward.

Five years ago, I recognized the need for a truly local wellness publication, one where community members share their expertise and insight with us, increasing our understanding of the many ways we can increase our health and happiness and the many wellness resources available locally to support us in this

A big thank you to each of our writers –regular column writers Barb Dupras, Victoria Jungwirth, Jenny Magli, Miriam Moeller, Jessica Nagelkirk, Heidi Stevenson, Steve Waller and Val Wilson, as well as all those who’ve contributed articles and photographs along the way, (see full list on p.3), who so impress me with the quality and care they bring to each article. I and our many readers get to learn so much every time!

A big thank you to all our advertisers, whose passion and purpose are a big part of what makes our community tick, and who help make presenting this wealth of wellness information possible. I think you’ll enjoy discovering more about what their big hearts and expertise gift our community on pages 10 and 11 of this issue! And please consider letting them know how much you appreciate all they do.

A big thank you to proofreader Tyler Tichelaaar for his expert eyes and mind, kind heart and helpfulness, Curtis Kyllonen for his years of cheerfully and faithfully getting over a quarter of our many copies to where they need to go, to Tom O’Connell for making our early covers beautiful, to the various photographers whose eyes for local scenes have also helped create beautiful covers, to all our print shop helpers who’ve assisted me in getting the job done right, the many businesses and organizations who’ve made a place for Health & Happiness to be easily picked up, and to my husband, Kevin McGrath, for always pitching in with whatever’s needed, whether it’s a warm hug and smile, sound advice, listening ears, great ideas, timely deliveries, inspiring, light-hearted articles or encouraging words.

And a big thank you to YOU, our readers, for all your support and appreciation. You make it all worthwhile!

It’s the support of all of you that has made it possible to cover topics ranging from cooking with rutabaga to traditional Chinese medicine, child rearing tips to overcoming writer’s block, mortgage and energy-saving advice to mindfulness practices, pet treat recipes to U.P. kayaking, long distance elder care to wild crafting and so much more; increase our distribution to 7,500 copies at over 250 locations, five times where we started five years ago, (and there are still places where we run out of copies!); and further invest in our community with donations to the Beaumier Upper Peninsula Heritage Center, Devos Art Museum, Great Lakes Recovery Centers, Hiawatha Music Festival, Huron Mountain Club Gallery, Lake Superior Hospice, Marquette Arts & Culture Center, Marquette County Health Department, Marquette Maritime Museum, Marquette Regional History Center, Medical Care Access Coalition, Northern Initiatives, Oasis Gallery, UPAWS, Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum, and Upper Peninsula Environmental Coalition’s Celebrate the U.P.

Below are a few excerpts of the congratulations I’ve received on our fifth anniversary. Thank you so much to all those who’ve made a point of expressing their appreciation, whether in person or in writing!

I look forward to continuing to serve our community’s wellness information needs with high quality and creativity, as well as launching our five year commitment to supporting a different area of community life each year through increased coverage and donations, starting this year with the increasingly important issue of elder care.

So fittingly, this issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine is dedicated to the topics of celebration, age and “fives” – enjoy!

Roslyn Elena McGrath, Publisher, Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine

 I want to congratulate you on your fifth anniversary of Health & Happiness. Every cover has been beautiful and the wide array of articles has provided a wealth of information and insight to readers. Your vision of a need and your willingness and excitement to fill that need has been remarkable. Here’s to many more issues! – Gareth Zellmer 

Congratulations on the 5th anniversary of Health and Happiness!  It’s some of the best reading to come out of our “far northern outpost” community.  May the coming year be the best yet; here’s to five more! – Sue Schenk Drobny 

Congratulations from Natural Connections!  We celebrate you for your commitment and passion in providing a wonderfully effective information connection between our holistic community and U.P. residents through your beautiful magazine, Health & Happiness!

Happy 5th Anniversary from Lake Superior Holistic Connection!   Your magazine is a bright light in our community!  It’s a beacon illuminating paths of possibility to those seeking natural ways to align their body, mind, spirit!  Congrats! – Diana Oman

It’s a joy, truly an inspiration to witness this evolution of Health & Happiness, how you have brought this brilliant idea, an idea that lit you up and lit us up as well, into manifestation.  I look forward to receiving this uplifting publication with its focus on our possibilities and potential, and the labor of love that you as creator, as bridge-maker, as editor, as publisher, as marketer have put into each and every issue.  It is a template for all of us, the way that you have taken a dream and made it reality, learning the next step and the next step as you’ve walked this creative path.  And look how we all benefit, what you have brought to all of us!  – Helen Haskell Remien

Health & Happiness’s Contributing Writers & Photographers, 2007 – 2012:

Leslie Allen, Linda Andriacchi, Stuart Baker, Leslie Bek, Gina Brown, Audra Campbell, Lisa Cerasoli, Joan Chadde, Pam Christenson, Amy Clickner, Stuart Cooper, Patty Cornish, Martha Crenshaw, Kim Danielson, Sarah Dean, Chuck Delpier, Sara DeFrancesco, Melinda Dollhopf, Barb Dupras, Cindy Engle, Sydney Giovenco, Lee Goodwin, Genean Granger, Kathy Harsch, Victoria Jungwirth, Kristen Karls, Kim Kee, Mick Kiaros, Virginia Kleaver, Amanda Klein, Tammy Krassick, Lucy LaFaive, Jamie LaFreniere, Betsy Little, Jeaneen Luokkala, Alanna Luttenton, Dawn Lundin, Jenny Magli, Karen Mallinger, Amy Mattson, Kevin McGrath, Roslyn McGrath, Lisa McKenzie, Brian McMillan, Kristine McPeak, Miriam Moeller, Neil Moran, Mohey Mowafy, Jessica Nagelkirk, Kim Nixon, Colleen O’Hara, Valerie Olson, Diana Oman, Marissa Palomaki, Kris Harris Pfaffle, Phil Poutinen, Gretchen Preston, Diane Raven, Robert Regis, Helen Haskell Remien, Carol Rose, Sherri Rule, Christine Saari, Jon Saari, Diane Sautter, Deb Sergey, Dar Shepherd, Mary Soper, Jennifer Stelly, Heidi Stevenson, Tyler Tichelaar, Lynn Vanwelsenaers, Cassandra Vore, Steve Waller, Nicole Walton, Fran Walters, Cynthia Whitehouse, Val Wilson, Gareth Zellmer, & Joseph Zyble.

Reprinted with permission from the Fall 2012 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine, copyright 2012.

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