Enchanting Mangrove Forest

Whenever I feel encumbered with too many “things” and am looking for something to brighten my mood, I hit the trails! I’m lucky that it’s sweet and effortless, as some of South Florida’s best hiking is right in front of me. The most interesting trail has to be the enchanting mangrove forest at the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. It humbles me with its understated magnificence and exquisite beauty.

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center sits on twenty acres of a protected barrier island between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. I’m there to get in my three miles, and it feels like I need nothing else. It engulfs me.

The wetlands of South Florida are broadly defined as mangrove forests, mudflats, coral reefs, shallow coastal waters and estuaries.

Mangrove forests buffer the coastline against wave-induced erosion and provide our coastal communities a vital line of defense against strong, tropical storms. Mangrove forests also provide important nursery habitat for many species of fish, which later move to coral reefs and other ecosystems as they mature.

The health of coral reefs are largely dependent on coastal mangrove forests. Their intricate root systems trap huge amounts of soft sediments, which would otherwise smother the coral reefs. They need each other, just as much as we need them.
These wetlands are important for our ecosystem, as is every biome.

I’ve learned over time that I find strength in an atmosphere of quiet, spaciousness and calmness.

I want to bring the naturalness inside and for my home to be open and calm too—like how I feel when I’m outdoors on a trail, the beach or a mountain. When I come home and see too many things I don’t use or need, I’ll donate or get rid of them. Let the sunshine in!

Happiness makes the world go round. And living a simplified, uncluttered life with less stuff means I have more time and energy for the people and things that bring me JOY. There’s less to clean and organize, less debt, and therefore, less stress. 

It’s a mutualistic approach to living as minimalistic as possible. Where you benefit from your surroundings and the environment benefits from your respect of it. A symbiosis of space and light. I am dependent on them.

Simplicity is subjective and everyone is different. Some people want everything. Some want nothing. Others are right in the middle.

People often look for fulfillment in the new and different: a purchase, an escape, more money, or even plastic surgery. They believe their happiness is dependent upon the acquisition of new and shiny things.
Self care is handled in a similar fashion. Some folks will see 3 different doctors who’ll prescribe 7 different medications, then see a fourth doctor to get a new medication in order to treat the symptoms for those seven meds. Whew!
Same with food. Why does someone need a “stuffed pocket” or 10 different kinds of frozen waffle to choose from, when two eggs and an avocado is the perfect breakfast?
Living a simple, healthy life is a GREAT way to declutter your environment. For example, you instantly knock out about 80% of the products in the grocery store when you commit to eating fresh, whole, non-processed foods. This makes shopping a whole lot easier!

You can spend a lifetime chasing things you think will make you happier, but open your eyes to the beautiful, natural world around you.

You can effortlessly Google your zip code with the words “Best Hikes” and find a treasure trove of trails within driving distance, or even closer. Cities and countries everywhere are opening up their minds and eyes to protect nature, restore, find more places to go exploring and exercise outside. Plus it’s cheaper than a gym membership and one less bill to pay!

It’s become second nature for us to think that all we have to do is get the latest gadget to make our lives easier, or hop on a plane for our next adventure. But chances are it’s right at our own front door. Kind of like a lot of life’s gems.

About Jet Widick

Jet Widick is the founder of Gluten Free Sage, a weekly publication that promotes healthy food, healthful lifestyle, mindfulness and minimalism. She believes that each of us longs for artful experiences and that we need to be well and inspired to help us become the best, most beautiful versions of ourselves that we can be.