My love of nature began as a 5-year-old growing up in a small town of about 5,000 people in Northeast Ms. We lived on the edge of town. In fact we were literally the last house in the city limits with nothing but woods beyond our side yard.
I spent many hours and days exploring those woods—building forts and tree houses, fishing in the lakes and streams, eating blackberries, and catching birds and small animals with homemade traps. I thank my mother for teaching me to appreciate and respect the beauty and the sacredness of nature. We marveled at the greens of spring and the amazing colors of the leaves in autumn.
I married Peggy (my high school sweetheart) at age 19 which we both concluded later on was much too young. During my senior year in college, I took my first course in Psychology and was captivated by the possibility of learning more about why we do the things we do.
I went on to get a Ph.D. in Social/Organizational Psychology, then taught Organizational Psychology for 8 years in the Graduate Schools of Business at the Univ. of Pittsburgh and the Univ. of Rochester. In 1970 I left the university scene to pursue a consulting career in organizational development.
My approach to organizational development eventually included a strong emphasis on helping individuals grow in areas of their own choosing. Peggy and I wrote the Life-Planning Workbook to facilitate that process. My entire consulting experience left me with a healthy respect for the almost unlimited potential we all possess.
I had not planned on a second career, but the development of digital cameras opened a new world for me—allowing me to pursue my love of photographing nature with abandon. In 2012 I produced my first book of photographs along with some of my favorite quotes. Out of that seed developed the idea of a series of reflections on things that matter—using quotes that I’ve been collecting for 50 plus years and photos to bring attention to universal values we all share.
In my hikes to get the kind of photos I wanted, I’ve felt the healing power of nature. I am still awestruck every time I escape the noise of civilization so that I can hear the subtle sounds of nature in the raw and see the images that emerge when we look with soft eyes. I hope that each of the 27 books in the series will be an uplifting experience in itself, but even more, I hope they will inspire you to get out in nature more and to act on the things that matter most to you with other significant people in your life.
James Vaughan Ph.D.