“I’ve never found time spent amongst nature to be a waste of time.” – anonymous
Parents’ arms offer comfort, love, and respite from life’s pain. Just as our parents provide shelter, mother earth envelops us with her warm embrace and shows us the true nature (pun intended) of humanity. Having lived in multiple states and countries, the one common denominator included nature of some kind. I ran along the Tigris river while deployed to Baghdad, Iraq. The lush, yet limited vegetation lined its banks.
While teaching physical education in Aylesbury, England, I found secluded paths, waterways, and parks.
Eventually, I couldn’t resist the undeniable call back to my hometown to raise my own children among crystal-clear, spring-fed lakes and rivers and to venture into the local state park and the lengthy ice age trail that snakes through the state.
Nature calls. The yearning to soothe my anxiety in her calm and compassionate disposition keeps bringing me back.
As a child, I explored every nook and cranny of our land. I made make-believe chicken out of rotten trees, I pulled moss off the ground in such large clumps that we could encircle the bones of a TP, I looked for otters and foxes next to a pond, I created my own secret Narnia with my twin brother, we biked on such dangerous routes that we named one “suicide.” I swam so often that I grew scales on my legs. My most vivid childhood memories were indeed those of the great outdoors. Even that camping trip that included―and this is no joke―poison ivy, stinging nettles, swimmer’s itch, and the loss of my beautiful 80’s, pink-rimmed glasses that I watched drift down into the 20+ feet of water. None of those things deterred me from loving almost every other moment of that trip. This set the foundation for many wonderful adventures to come.
In college, I almost immediately shifted my major from micro-biology―cells are so cool!―to physical education teacher when I realized that I might have to work in a windowless lab for hours on end. I asked myself, “What could I do that would allow me to go outside as often as weather allowed?” Ding, ding, ding! A Physical Education teacher! Seeing as how I was an athletic person who always wanted to teach, it fit the bill. As luck would have it, I student-taught with a teacher who led the adventure ed program at Memorial High School. I was hooked!―rock climbing, ropes courses, camping, spelunking (although my claustrophobia ranked this activity slightly lower than the rest). My time at Memorial sealed my fate for the next decade where I eventually took the lead as the adventure ed teacher at West High School in Madison, WI. I showed students how awesome it was to eat a burned hotdog and marshmallow, how a group of heterogeneous students could become a family in a short semester with the help of good-old mother nature and thoughtful community building.
My adventures continued when I received my Masters in Experiential Education. Through that degree, I obtained a First Aid Wilderness certification, a top-rope certification, and went on a ten-day voyage in the Wind River Range in Wyoming.
“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey
I found the spirit Edward Abbey referred to. The 70-pound pack floated as if a feather and my body became one with nature. Life’s necessities melted away until I was left with only the possessions I could carry. That moment when time becomes a man-made concept and unimportant when you meld with the cycle of the rising and setting suns. The world news becomes a distant thought and the only important thing was putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying God’s green earth for everything it has to offer. The joy of first hearing and then spotting a babbling brook or watching the rainbows cascade down a beautiful waterfall or seeing your first Moose in person. Nature inspires, builds character, tames a wild heart, and priorities our busy brains. It is focused, direct, forgiving, open, and brutally honest.
In a time when, for some reason, we have politicized whether or not to keep our earth clean, let’s celebrate all that it has given us and remember to be kind and give back. Only take what you brought in, don’t leave a trail behind you, and enjoy every aesthetic morsel she has to offer.
When you return to civilization, embrace that same mentality. Live simply, find your own rhythm, find your own paths and trails and enjoy every nook and cranny that life has to offer. And, as always, be kind by leaving places and people better than when you found them.
These are the values I try to uphold as I now navigate the world of being a Middle School Principal, a mother of three, and a wife. I take time to get on calm waters and fly fish, paddle, or swim―one luxurious stroke after another.
Life is a fleeting moment in this grand and beautiful universe. If you find yourself in a rut, go back to your roots. The roots that brought civilization into this world. The roots of our ancestors that discovered America, the roots that we’ll return to someday soon. Nature has a way of showing us that there’s more to life than the daily grind that can wear us down.
In the end, mother nature has everything we need to live a high-quality and meaningful life. Go get it!
To all of you strong and amazing women, want help connecting or reconnecting with nature? Whether you are a novice or a pro outdoor enthusiast―get inspired by Solstice Adventure Company.