I was recently asked about my experiences in the outdoors; how I got to be so comfortable in the backwoods and what it's taught me about life. Here's the scoop!
Most of my youth years were spent in the woods! My fathers love of the outdoors, I suppose out of necessity in his youth (farmers), transpired into my siblings and me being subjected to the same! We spent summers camping, fishing, canoeing, building and trying to float rafts, and winters Ice fishing, snowshoeing, checking the trap line, and later on prepping for (in winter) and building (in summer) a log cabin. Oh, and there was a stint of dog mushing years! I used to think that I missed out because I never played organized sport. I later realized there were (intentionally?) a lot of life skills built into the expansive backyard play during those days with dad, before I left home. He was much wiser than I understood back then. Go figure!
Early in my adult years I realized what a blessing it was that my playground was very expansive, and green; in tune with nature. This innate knowing, of turning to nature to sort through life’s conundrums, is probably the thing that has kept me together throughout adulthood. That and staying active outdoors. When I first left small town Northern MB to attend university, I’d go for long runs to the park, and sit by the river…ponder life. What a gift that was, to intrinsically turn to nature and my inner self for solutions. I suppose that was meditation in action right there? There was this quiet inner peace I’d tap into, and wisdom that I didn’t know I had.
As a shy, quiet kid, who lacked self confidence and avoided groups and team sports, I sure grew into a lover of the outdoor life, assured and fearless, and tested my skills in a variety of activities as an adult. I found it exhilarating to be outdoors, in the elements, pushing my physical limits, finding my edge. I’ve found it transpires into other areas of life, gives one a sense of self worth, and teaches values. Challenges mindset, belief systems, outlook on life. Tips the happiness scale!
My entire adult life, aside from schooling, work, being a partner, raising kids, (who were also exposed to the legacy of ‘nature lovers’) and the stuff required to sustain life, has been spent outdoors; in the woods, on the trails, on the water, pedaling the pavement, and now in beautiful BC climbing all the mountains I can, challenging myself to grow and acquire new skills. Still, more, always and forever. It’s the way I chose to live life, always with the end in mind. Not going to be dependent on anyone in old age, just gonna drop dead climbing a mountain one day! (well, that’s the wish. We’ll talk mindset on another blog). Fact is, I am in heaven here on Vancouver Island, my outdoor Disney world, and I am going to take complete advantage of that!! My peace on earth; I was literally called here by the forest one day while driving near where I reside now. Could not ignore the trees calling me. Really!
With a mind to stay healthy and a desire for adventure, I’ve found myself drawn to many outdoor physical endeavors, mostly thinking ‘that would be a lark’. Haha. Mostly they weren’t, but I completed them all and am here to tell the story! There were overnight snowshoe marathons in Northern MB, a Woman’s World Championship Dog Race in Leaf Rapids, MB, long canoe trips in the rugged Northern wilderness, a few longer hikes here and there (5-7 days in duration), very long bike tours (up to 1,600 km over a couple of weeks), and I am currently learning to paddle outrigger canoes! (Think Hawaii Five 0, for the seniors reading this). What a blast it’s been!
The driving force has always been “be a healthful old person”, “stay fit, it looks much easier than letting your health go, then trying to get it back”, “enjoy life to the max”, with my parents as role models. I started with the end in mind back when I was 17 years old, and fresh out of high school. This message drove home when I was 21 and lost my younger brother (he was 19). “Live fully, stay healthy, don’t waste life on the stuff that doesn’t matter, the bullshit stuff”! Message reaffirmed some 15 yrs later, with my own son, who almost lost his life at 18 months old. Live life fully, pay attention to what matters; our health, the important people in our lives, time in nature, learning the lessons of life. 😊 Be mindful, live on purpose; take time to ponder. Enjoy every day. Do not waste time on acquiring material stuff, that you will later worry about how to get rid of! Do not waste time at a job you hate, if at all possible! Go play or sit in the park, or at least take your lunch break in a park, by the river, someplace pleasant.
The simplest way to figure out what really matters, ask any dying person; a 35 yr old mom of 3 with cervical cancer, a hardened old man who spent his life working to provide for his family only to be abandoned by his family when he's battling dementia, a career woman who put off having a family and travelling, who’s lying in bed, with an autoimmune disorder, waiting to die at ago 40. They will articulate what matters. We’ve all been touched by a few of these stories. We inherently know what matters, what doesn’t. Yet, we don’t always heed the lessons to slow down, get outdoors, smell the flowers, destress.
Fast forward to my current life. My wise outdoorsy kids are all grown up, and dispersed around the province. I decided to leave Manitoba, listen to the wise trees of BC calling me to move. I packed my little car to max, and drove out to BC, knowing no one except one old uni friend, with no plan, no place to live, and no worries; So free. By now I’ve got this sense of trust about life; listen to the call of the wild, and it will all work out accordingly. And so it was, things just fell into place; a perfect place to live offered up while out for a run one day, random connections with like minded humans, like the plans were already in place for me when I arrived. In my health coaching world, we call it easeful living! It was so easy to simply join a few outdoor enthusiast groups, show up, find my tribes, and make a whole new batch of outdoorsy buddies. Magical. We are all connected, never alone in this world, unless we decide so in our minds! 😊
The big takeaway is this: connection with nature has given me the confidence to live my life to the fullest, tapped into inner wisdom. My father taught me at an early age that this was available to anyone who slows down, listens for it, and that we are never alone in this world. If you’re ever feeling stuck or alone, I encourage you to walk out your door, move your body, breathe, connect to nature, and if you’re inclined to, meet a few others doing the same! Nature connects us humans at the most basic level, nature heals our wounds, nature shows us calm, and teaches us to live easeful lives (in layman’s terms, it keeps us sane!)
If you interested in any of my best BHAG stories (big hairy audacious goals) to date, follow my IG; I’ve been reminiscing and sharing a few stories, by request, and also creating new adventures in my spectacular new playground on the Island! This summers agenda includes hiking to Comox Glacier. How can it get any better? I also teach others to connect with nature, destress, get or stay healthy, and live vibrant youthful lives, well into the golden years. Age is inevitable, aging vibrantly and gracefully is a choice. Despite what the western world leads us to believe, we can live to be healthful old people, well into our 90’s. It’s ALL about our mindset. If this challenges your beliefs, ask me about my work as an ayurvedic based health coach. Let’s explore whether changing up a few of your old outdated habits and beliefs can change the trajectory of your life. Peruse my website See what others are saying.