Years ago, I had the privilege of visiting the beautiful country of Ecuador in South America. I embarked on this trip with my family. I visited the many amazing landscapes native to the area. The Andes are the system of mountains that run North and South in Ecuador, and in several neighboring countries as well.

During a summer visit to the Andes, it is possible to rent bikes and to participate in guided bike trails along the mountain. The Andes feed into valleys that are filled with natural hot spring basins. Some of these waterways have been converted for public hot spring bathing access. After hours of biking in the Andes, tourists are encouraged to dip into the natural hot springs to relax, rest, and restore before taking off again. 

It is quite shocking to learn that there is another mountain to climb after a day of biking and swim in the natural hot springs that surface from deep within the earth’s center. Professionals guides offer average enthusiasts exhausted by one trip with the option of riding back up and down subsequent mountains in a small bus.

Just before opting to take the bus myself, I had been left behind by my family as well as our tourist companions. I was riding at a much slower pace and completely enjoying the change in eco-systems as I rode up and down the mountains. In parts, the elevation was too high to support tall trees and large aloe and avocado plants that grew abundantly throughout.

During these few moments of solitude and abandonment on the Andes, I was enthralled by the gentle breeze and beauty the surrounded me. It was in these quiet moments that I felt as though the earth had taken a breath, and that she had allowed me to feel it. There is a grace that comes from feeling the earth breathe. A moment of grace never to be forgotten.

Of course, the bus had been following me the entire time although out of my view, and had eventually caught up to where I was now standing. I opted to take the bus at this point, and met up with the rest of the crew at the end of the tour. There is more to this story, but I will save this for another brief article on holistic wellness.

Mother’s Day is traditionally celebrated in the month of May. Indigenous cultures refer to Mother Earth in deferential reference to the ways that nature both reveals it’s resilience to repair itself and it’s role in supporting and healing human life.

This article is my tribute to Mother Earth this May and a gentle reminder about the importance of treating her well and with respect. Holistic Wellness integrates all aspects of daily living including the restorative beauty of Mother Earth herself.

by Lisa Romano-Dwyer BSc, MSW, PhD, RSW

Burls, A. (2007). People and green spaces: promoting public health and mental well-being through ecotherapy. Journal of Public Mental Health, 6, 24–39.

Davis, J. (2004). Psychological benefits of nature experiences: An outline of research and theory. Retrieved 10/5/2012 from

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