In life’s storms, we can still find peace in nature’s embrace and gratitude’s guiding light. Resilience blooms where gratitude and nature intertwine. In this episode, we hear from Dortha Hise, successful business owner, award-winning author and nature enthusiast. She explores the impact of nature, resilience, and the practice of gratitude. Dortha shares her personal story through loss and self-reinvention. Learn how she went through a cascade of bereavement, culminating in the loss of her voice. Through journaling and a connection to nature, she discovered a path to healing and resilience. Dortha also testifies of the power and value of gratitude journals—simple instruments that can reshape our perspectives. In this dark world we live in, we could all use a source of light and inspiration. Tune in now and learn how gratitude and resilience can enrich your life!
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Nature’s Healing Touch: How To Live Life With Gratitude And Resilience With Dortha Hise
This is the show where we talk about communication, presentation, skills, leadership, and gratitude. I wanted to do an episode about gratitude. I got my friend Dortha Hise to come as a guest. Before I get into describing her, let me invite you to see how your presentation skills are doing by taking our free four-minute quiz at SpeakForResultsQuiz.com. That’s where in four minutes, you can see where your presentation skills are strong and where perhaps a bit of support could get you the results you need and the recognition that you deserve. If you score high enough, you will get the possibility of a free conversation with me to discuss your assessment results.
My guest is Dortha Hise and she’s someone I have known for several years. I watched her go through a difficult period and come out of it shining with flying colors. She knows a great deal about gratitude, survival, and daily gratitude practices. I asked her to come and talk on the show. The official bio is Dortha L. Hise an international bestselling author, Founder, and Chief Overwhelm Solver of Pretty Smart Virtual Services, which is a full-service coaching and project management firm specializing in rescuing clients from overwhelm. She’s also the Director of Adventure at Summit to Your Success, which is a choose-your-own-adventure-focused healing technique where she helps others learn about the healing power of nature. Dortha loves helping her clients choose their adventures by freeing them up from their to-do lists.
After enduring multiple devastating personal losses, Dortha lost her voice. She thought it was a simple case of laryngitis or bronchitis. As it turned out, it wasn’t that simple. She was diagnosed with a neurological condition called abductor spasmodic dysphonia. This condition prevented Dortha from using the phone or speaking normally or being easily heard in a room that had a lot of ambient noise. While this presented challenges to Dortha, she’s grateful for this experience because it has heightened her sense of hearing and, most importantly, her ability to listen deeply.
Always the positive thought leader, Dortha remained a high achiever through circumstances that would have knocked down many without feeling overwhelmed. She understood the mindset of high achievers fully and how to optimize their businesses for maximum performance. However, she observed that the overwhelm didn’t always go away.
After going on a three-day backpacking trip in 2015, she could fully experience the healing power that nature brought to her. She’d done it naturally with techniques that developed both strategically and intuitively. She set an intention to be open to whatever she was meant to receive on that trip. When she returned home, she understood that to be what expanded her resilience and that the final act of letting go brought the ultimate antidote to overwhelm.
Dortha, now a certified coach, teaches others to do the same in choosing your adventure healing portal, which is bringing about entire mind shifts and personal transformation for those who lead, helping them serve the world at their best. Dortha has a lot to say. She does have her voice back now, and she’s so full of wisdom. I know that you will enjoy the conversation. Onto the interview with Dortha Hise.
Dortha Hise, I’m so happy to have you as a guest on the show. Welcome.
Thank you so much. I’m so glad to be here.
I’m glad. I was thinking, “Who could I get to talk about gratitude?” I like to do a gratitude episode every year at Christmas time, particularly. Everybody talks about gratitude at Thanksgiving, and it’s an international show. Not everybody does Thanksgiving, but everybody at least knows that the end of the year, solstice, Christmas, or whatever holiday you are going to celebrate that celebrates the return of the light, is also a good chance to be grateful. You have an interesting story. Before I get into my questions though, let me ask you, if you were to interview someone who’s no longer with us, who would it be, what would you ask them, and who should be listening?
I would want to interview John Muir and that’s because of my love of nature.
For our international readers, tell us who John Muir was.
He was an avid outdoors person and an activist who helped get Yosemite to be the national park that it is, Yosemite National Park.
This is in California.
He had some other foundational work that he did in the activism space for accessibility to the outdoors I would think is how I could sum it up.
Making it possible for ordinary people to get out into nature. I have to say that some friends of mine who do a lot of hiking went to Yosemite. My one friend posted, “We were prepared for Yosemite to be a disappointment because it’s so well-known. We were wrong.” It’s quite something. What would you ask John Muir? What would you like to talk to him about?
I would want to chat with him about all the various treks he did, and the time difference when he did them hundreds of years ago to now to see where we could still get to, because I don’t think all of the places that he explored are easily accessible now. He was doing cross-country-type exploring. In Yosemite especially, they want you to stay on the trails. I would be curious to know what inspired him to go on these treks and then how that affected the rest of his life. I know when I get out in nature, it affects all the areas of my life.
One of the other reasons I wanted to invite you to the show is because I most powerfully feel gratitude when I’m out in nature. I think I’m so small and the world is so big. How lucky I am to have been born in this form on this planet now at this day. Also, when I get back home, I’m grateful for hot water, coffee, electricity, and things like that. It didn’t use to be easy. I’m very aware of that. You have written a lot about gratitude. You are a multiple award-winning author. You have had an interesting and difficult trek to get to this place of gratitude and rebirth. Can you tell us how did you get here? What was the timeline from when it all fell apart to now?
It was several years ago, and I began with the unexpected death of my mother, and then three months later, my great-grandmother passed away, and a few months later, another friend’s husband lost his battle with cancer. The following month, one of my best friends from high school lost her battle with multiple sclerosis, and that path and trajectory continued for about 2 years and a total of 28 people passed away during that timeframe.
In the same window of time, I was diagnosed with a vocal disorder that pretty much prevented me from speaking much above a whisper. That was when it all fell apart. I immediately began journaling. I was called to that. I felt it in my heart. As soon as my mom passed away, I knew that I wanted to journal my experience. I felt called that I would want to write a book about the journey.
At the time when it was only my mom who had passed away, I thought it was going to be around this concept of a difficult relationship and how to grieve the loss of a difficult relationship. Over those two years, that trajectory changed, and it became about finding joy in any loss. It morphed from not just people passing away but also around pet loss.
The unnatural things that I talked to people about where they had lost a child, which was not even something that had been in my mind because I don’t have children. That conversation changed how I approached the context of my book. There was a piece around partner loss in a business, for example, or you lose a big client.
I was starting to realize it wasn’t about the physical death. In metaphorical terms, in your business or relationships, it isn’t always just about death. It is the closing of a chapter could be considered like a death. I spent the next many months writing and journaling and then decided I was going to put it all into a book. That was published at the end of 2014.
A few months later, my husband sent an email to me and asked if I wanted to join this person on a backpacking trip. It was a colleague of his from work, and I had always been drawn to the idea of backpacking and thought, “It sounds fun.” We committed to doing it and it was a 3-day, about 45-mile trek in the Sierra Nevada here in California. It was spectacular, beautiful, hard, and amazing. That was the turning point for me when I got home. I had this real sense of peace about everything I had gone through in those two years. Not that it was for a reason. At the same time, it was like, “I can do this. I am okay. I am going to make it.”
The loss of your voice, which was the other thing you didn’t mention, was huge. We have known each other for a long time. I remember that it was several years ago when you only communicated by text. As someone who speaks and listens for a living, the thought of losing your voice was terrifying.
You have reinvented yourself. You call yourself the naturepreneur. I love that. Talk to us about the practice of gratitude. We have all heard about gratitude journals. For some of us, it’s easy to keep going, take it for granted, or lose track. You put the book down and you forget and you lose the rhythm. Remind me again, because it’s something that I’m not as consistent with as I’d like to, the value of having a gratitude journal.
There are a lot of things that a gratitude journal can do in our lives. One is that it’s a great way to start the day by writing down 3 to 5 things that I’m grateful for, which is one of the things I do. What that does is it then primes my brain to look for other things to be grateful for. It’s not like, “I’m writing these five things down and it’s willy-nilly.” I am thinking about them as you mentioned about having hot coffee when you get home after being out on the trail, for example. Sometimes hot coffee is one of the things I’m grateful for and it doesn’t have to be something huge, it can be something small.
A lot of times, it’s something to do with my relationship with my husband. We got to spend quality time together. We got to do something like this or this, or we got to spend quality time with someone else. Those are the things that come to my mind and I jot them down. At the end of the day, if I’m having a bad day, I can grab that journal, pull it open, and read any given day something I was grateful for, and it helps me to retrain my brain from being in a spiral or anxious thoughts or wherever I am in the moment to get back to gratitude. There are a lot of different things that gratitude, awareness, and practice can do, and it goes around setting intentions and being intentional about the practice.
Talk to us about the power of setting an intention. Why is that important?
Before we started the show, you and I had chatted about what it was about the backpacking trip that marked that change in my heart and feeling peace all over. It was that I set an intention before we left. I said that I was going to be open to receiving whatever I meant to receive on this trip. I repeated it throughout the whole trip. I attribute the transformation that I experienced on that trip to being open to receiving it.
Every trip I do now and have done since then, which has been probably close to thousands of miles now, has always started with setting that same intention. I think that the power of intention does a lot of things. One is it opens up what’s possible. It lets the universe, God, the creator, divine, or whoever it is that is your guiding star know that you are activating that possibility and opening yourself to creating what’s possible. It’s a multi-prong thing.
Let me go on then and ask you about self-care within your business including working with a team. How does that count as self-care?
Since all of the loss that I endured and the loss of my voice, I had to come into a space where I gave myself permission to say that asking for help was a form of self-care. It was once I gave it that framework that I no longer felt like, “I can’t do it all.” I was going to a negative place about it. I don’t know if your audience can sympathize with that. Maybe or maybe not.
We have all been there.
One of the things that I always tell my clients is, “You don’t have to wear the cape all the time. You can take the cape off.” That is to be the superpower or the superhero. You can take the cape off and be your normal self. It’s fine. The power that comes with using a team is multifaceted. One is that you can hand off things that you are not great at. Things that make you spin your wheels and things that take up too much of your time, all of those kinds of things, which then frees you up to do the things that you are good at. One of the things that I start with my clients is, “Let’s make a list of all the things that you do. Now go back and circle the things only you can do.”The power that comes with using a team is multifaceted. One is that you can hand off things that you're not great at, things that make you spin your wheels, things that take up too much of your time. Click To Tweet
Those are the things you cannot delegate. Everything else can be delegated. It’s so surprising. People see that list and they are like, “I can delegate so much,” and they are not aware of that because likely, they have been in their business and they have had their heads down so long that they don’t realize, “Just because it takes me five hours to put an email together doesn’t mean that I ought to be doing that.”
That’s not the norm. You can hire somebody that might take them a half hour or something to do it on their time. It’s freeing you up five hours of your time of frustration and all of that. I would say that it’s around getting the support you need to hand things off. It also allows you to build trust because if you were like me when I was a kid, I was abandoned 3 times before I was 5 years old. As a result of that, I learned the power of a support network and the power of having a team when I got into my adult years.
I certainly didn’t know that when I was five. It took me a lot longer to come back around to that. Those are some of the things that can facilitate a very strong relationship and a very strong team. If you have transparency in the relationship with communication and expectation being two of the key components, it can avoid a lot of frustration and heartache down the road as you are starting to build that relationship with your team.
In any team or leader who’s working with a team whether it’s entrepreneurs or whether it’s within an organization, allow yourself to delegate. Letting it be possible that someone else will solve it not the same way you solved it, and that’s still okay. That was a hard one for me to learn back in the day.
Our control keeping hold of it.
“I’m right anyway. My way is going to be the right way to do it.” That was an early one I had to learn. That was hard for me. I love that self-care to delegate and trust that someone else will do it okay. They will do it their way. Your team will be happier if you are not micromanaging.
Let’s get that on a T-shirt.
In terms of self-care and delegating, it also allows you to take breaks, set boundaries, and hold them. With all these thousands of miles that you have hiked, you have also kept a business running all this time. What would you say to those of us, I am in this category sometimes, who say, “I have to get this other thing done. I will give up my Sunday and do that or I will give up my weekend and do that because there’s so much still to do?”
I say those things will be there when you get back to the office. Unless someone is going to die as a result of you not doing it, it’s probably going to be okay to wait for a few days. Likely, what most people experience, myself included, is when I get that time to unplug and disconnect, it allows me to recharge so that when I plug back in, I am stronger and brighter. I have more creativity and flow, and that has been the case for my clients as well.When you get that time to unplug and disconnect, it allows you to recharge so that when you plug back in, you're stronger and brighter. Click To Tweet
Why is it important to get out into nature or bring nature into your home?
As we have evolved as humans over time, we have gotten to be less and less outdoors. I look at my parents and my husband’s parents, and they are very much still people who get out regularly. They are doing well because of it. I look at people my age and their kids. Some of those kids are having kids now too. I’m looking at all of them and they are on the phone, iPad, and computer at a very early age. They are curbing that go-play-in-the-street thing that I grew up with like go play outside.
I have embraced sharing ways that are easy for people to get out. I realize that I am a little bit crazy about getting out and backpacking 45, 50, to 75 miles. I understand that not everybody’s cup of tea. I do like to share ways that people can get out that are easy or bring things in. For example, if they live in a concrete jungle, they can’t get out and get the real benefit of seeing trees or interacting with a bird or a squirrel. Some easy ways to get out if you do have space is to put your feet in the dirt and wiggle your toes back and forth. Do something called grounding. What that does is energetically recharge you at the cellular level by reconnecting with the earth.
Something else you can do is if you are not allergic to grass, lay in the grass and look up at the clouds. Look for shapes like we did when we were kids. That’s a fun one to do if you have children of your own as well. Have them join you and have your partner join you. It’s fun. My husband and I do it all the time now when we are out in the car, he’s like, “Look at that cloud. It looks like this.” It’s now a practice that we do not just, “I’m feeling stressed out. I need to get outside.” It’s like a daily thing that we do whenever there are clouds.
There are some ways that you can bring nature in if you don’t have the space near you, things like bringing in plants. There are different types of plants that are good for certain things. You could have a snake plant or spider plant and all different kinds of things that you can bring into your home. I should share that I have an infographic that talks about different plants you can put in different places in your home for them to have their maximum benefit.
The other component of that that’s good for our mental wellness is talking to them. It sounds crazy, but talking to them, and putting positivity into the air is good for us as well as I believe for the plants. They absorb that positivity as well as us giving it. One other little thing, if you can hug a tree, that’s one of my huge go-to moves for a quick uplifting experience. It’s like hugging a grandparent.
Hug a tree. I love it. There’s a reason why environmentalists are called tree huggers.
Can you tell us a story of a client you have helped get past the stress like this by getting outside?
Yeah. We are no longer working together. Not for any other reason than she changed directions, but she was somebody who when we started was so uptight and stressed that she talked about micromanaging. It was bad. She would send me something. A few hours later, she would send me a follow-up email, and then she would send me more emails, and I was like, “This isn’t going to work. If you can’t hand it off, at least give me a few hours to maybe even see the email you sent. Sometimes there are other things I’m working on and I don’t sit here waiting for your email to come in.”
That was part of the first piece. I have taken a few trips. Every once in a while, our trips would coincide with taking a Friday or a Monday off for example, and she had asked me about it. We started having these conversations where she was like, “That’s interesting.” I started encouraging her to tap into what was interesting to her like how she could move her body, and she was attracted to yoga. I was like, “Great. Start doing some yoga. Maybe you can even do it outside in your backyard or something.” She started doing that, and then I encouraged her. “It’s always baby steps.” It’s never going on a 50-mile hike. Not the first time out.
First, it was yoga, and then I encouraged her to take her laptop with her, but not turn it on the weekend. That was a tough one for her because she always took it with her, and she would always be working. I would get these emails from her on Monday morning that were 11:00 at night on Saturday. I’m like, “Come on.” It was small steps like that.
Once she was able to do that, there’s a huge amount of freedom in bringing your laptop and not turning it on. Having it with you is a security blanket. Now can you leave it at home for the whole weekend? It becomes a progression. Maybe you can, maybe you can’t. It’s incredibly freeing once you get to that point, but it’s baby steps for sure. It’s not just playing right into the fire.
This has been delightful and fun. You have created some tools to help remind us about these useful concepts. Talk to us about the cards that you made.
I have three card decks that I designed with photos from various trips we have taken around Northern California. I paired them with a powerful mantra from one of my workouts and then put an action item on them. What I wanted them to be is a tool for people to do something. I wanted them to be pretty and I wanted them to inspire someone to get into action.
A card might say something from the Positive Change deck, it says, “I bring passion, intention, and strength to everything I do.” The action is to set an intention, dig deep, and tap into your passion to achieve it. Those are the kinds of things someone can expect from the three different card decks. One is Motivation, one is Attitude, and one is Positive Change.
Tell us what your website is.
If somebody is reading and says, “I need your help,” what is the first thing I could do? Leave us with one thing that we could do right now when we finish this interview.
I will give you two things. One will be business-related, and one will be get-outside-related. That list I talked about making, grab a piece of paper or a notepad. It’s on your computer. It’s generally more effective if you can write out all the things that you do and feel responsible for in your business, and then circle the things only you can do. What’s left are things that can be delegated and ought to be delegated because they are probably causing you stress and frustration. The other thing is for getting outside. Just go outside and absorb some vitamin D from the sun. It’s a great way to recharge yourself and it feels great too. There’s a reason why cats sleep on the windowsill with the sun on them. It feels amazing.Just go outside and absorb some vitamin D from the sun. It's a great way to recharge yourself. Click To Tweet
Even if it’s a cloudy day, get outside and breathe. Even on a rainy day, we will have clean air you will be breathing.
Not the recycled air inside.
Thank you so very much for having been my guest. I’m very happy to talk about gratitude and all of this. If you enjoyed this, tell your friends, spread the news, and share it on social media. Please go to Apple Podcasts and leave us a good review. That’s the one that people notice, and then you can reach out to Dortha Hise and myself wherever you are tuning in to this show or LinkedIn, YouTube, or all the places we are easy to find. We have loved having you as a guest, Dortha. I will see you on the next one.
About Dortha Hise