Updated: Nov 4, 2021
Image of my daughter, holding a heart shaped leaf on a walk last weekend.
I am so glad to be integrating this VERY big part of me, into my work.
I love the outdoors.
I love it because it is therapeutic, because I am a part of it, and because I know that the land does not belong to me, but that I belong to the land.
My first connections to the land came from my family. I grew up camping and in the outdoors in Colorado. Living out in the country for my earliest formative years had a big impact on me. Today, I still feel most at home standing where I can see miles around with big skies over head.
I also grew up in what I would call a complicated family. There was a lot of love, immense loads of it, and my parents, bless them, also held internalized trauma that came out in not so healthy ways.
For me, this was compounded by me being an empath. An intuitive. While I was raised in a house that allowed and accepted being psychic and in touch with energy I was simultaneously in a house that didn't know how to clear the energy without explosive and damaging effects.
Ultimately, I learned through osmosis to constantly read others at an energy level and shrink myself to maintain peace. So I shrank myself and adjusted myself based on everyone else's mood constantly, veritably losing my voice, at a young age. I would literally feel choked in MANY conversations with my Dad until I was in my early 30s, and this would often lead to explosive arguments.
Friends who knew me back then might not have seen it. I was outgoing, friendly, got along well with lots of people. Believe me, the "appearance" of harmony within myself was super important to me.
I didn't like this, but I didn't know how to not be meeting everyone else's needs / reading their energy 24/7 without realizing it, and feeling so suffocated. This also resulted in me having my own explosive anger and unresolved energy, pain and trauma. I'd also end up being flaky, not showing up places or to events because it was too much.
What flummoxed me even further growing up is that no one made space / accommodated for me the way I did for them. Why didn't they bend over backwards to help me out with my emotions just like I did for them?
Only later did I figure out (and sometimes it still takes me by surprise), oh, no one else is reading energy ALL THE TIME like I am. Ugh.
Here's what the science says:
"In a study of 20,000 people, a team led by Mathew White of the European Centre for Environment & Human Health at the University of Exeter, found that people who spent two hours a week in green spaces — local parks or other natural environments, either all at once or spaced over several visits — were substantially more likely to report good health and psychological well-being than those who don’t. Two hours was a hard boundary: The study, published last June, showed there were no benefits for people who didn’t meet that threshold.
The effects were robust, cutting across different occupations, ethnic groups, people from rich and poor areas, and people with chronic illnesses and disabilities."
(Read the full article here).
While blessed to have grown up in an outdoor loving family, getting out on my own once I moved out and then to work in the outdoors (starting at age 18, the summers between college years) really helped me to feel the peace within myself.
I got stronger, breathed better, my stress released. I felt in my body, in my wholeness.
And here's me circling back to why I love this point in my work. Because while I've done SO MUCH GROWTH in clearing my space, having boundaries, working energy, learning how to ease my hyper-sensitive spidey-senses into calm and safety, and then be able to help people on their path (because I can see their energy and growth if they want me to...), I'm now building in nature connection into my practice.
The work I'm creating first, coming in early 2022, is specifically for parents who want to get out and camp with confidence with their kids, away from screens, devices and tech, to unplug, and connect with one another to make real memories. Simple stuff. Deeply powerful stuff.
I'll be tapping in to my world of experience and resources to build this.
After my first summer in college working for the national park service, I went back to school and got a job at my university's outdoor program. I worked three summers for the national park service, then, when I graduated I went on to spend my 20's working as an outdoor guide in Arizona, Colorado, and Wyoming and also as a nature educator with kids K-12 in Colorado and Wyoming.
During graduate school I worked for another university outdoor program, this time mentoring guides, and when I graduated with my masters in urban and regional planning I even ended up working in planning parks and nature areas, and getting attuned to issues around access, inclusion, and the ability to get outdoors and feel safe outdoors, be it to a city park or out into a rural area. I dove in on nature equity and environmental justice.
And today nature helps me to co-parent all the time. It diffuses tension, it clears the air. It sparks imagination and curiosity. I'm teaching the kids to ask permission from the trees to take their leaves / needles, and say thanks (they like cedar tea), and we look with curiosity at how the world changes season to season.
It's still a part of my healing, I'm still an empath, I still FEEL a lot more than other folks and time out in nature is my reset. I can bounce, breathe, and feel free out there, and I can build my connection and gratitude for the earth for the healing it brings me.
And when I talk to other parents about our last minute camping trips and our dashes out into nature for the weekend or a long hike I see their eyes go kind of misty like "oh... I wish we could do that". And so - yep - I'm making this a part of my work. This is important for us as parents, as children, as adults without kids. Just... we need this.
I want to help more parents get outside for that 120 minutes a week (or more!) with their kids.
You'll have to stay tuned because it's in the works for 2022. I'm putting together so many resources, age-appropriate tips and activities, templates, ALL IN ONE place. My goal is to serve the single parent/guardian/caregiver with two kids who wants to get out the door and go camping with confidence. (But it will meet the needs of even getting out for a quick day trip as well). As best I can I also want to address access and abilities for those parents who may have a special needs child. Because if I can serve these parents and their kids, I think I can serve the most people regardless of what their family situation might be.
We could all use a dose of vitamin nature these days.
So... Tell me.
How do you get your weekly dose of nature?
What are your favorite places to go?
Your tips and tricks for having a good time with a young baby, a toddler, or maybe your (sometimes) too cool for school tween?
Also, importantly, do you have a child with special needs? What works for you? What challenges do you encounter? Actually, if this is your situation, can I buy you virtual lunch? I'd love to have better understanding what's needed for you to get outdoors and on an excursion, from a walk to camping with your kiddo. Please send me an email: email@example.com
Tell me everything. I want to hear what's great and what's in the way. If you could wave a magic wand and make it more awesome, what problem would be solved?
Lastly - if this made you think of a few people who could use this, send it to them! I want a chance to connect if they have something to share, or could benefit from what I'm making.
I can't wait to hear from you.
Thank you for reading! See you next time.
Image of that time my husband and I (pre-kids) backpacked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon from the north rim, and back up again.
Image of that time I took my ESL students camping at the end of the school year in Yellowstone National Park.
Image of when I guided scenic river trips on the Snake River in Jackson, Wyoming.
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