“Immersion in nature has an immediate impact. It releases the playful child inside, stimulates our senses and awakens our wonder. This, in turn, shifts our attention and makes room for creativity and calm to come to the fore.” - Sam Bleakley
Early this morning my sleep was disturbed and I just couldn’t get back to sleep, I felt slightly irritated as I felt like I needed more sleep. It was already light, so on a whim I decided to get outdoors. I headed for the beach, towards the sun on the eastern horizon. There I was, just me on the beach witnessing the start of this new day and soaking up the sounds of the sea and the skylarks overhead, thinking why would I want to sleep through this?
Already it is nearly halfway through the month of June and therefore #30dayswild, and I am loving it. Even me, who values the outdoors so much and knows deep to my core how important it is for my sanity, health and wellbeing to be outdoors, can struggle to actually get out there - particularly on my own. Life can just get in the way so easily: the paperwork that must get done, the grind of family life, the endless to do list of the modern world. Having the #30dayswild focus has gently challenged me to up my outdoor game, to remind me to stop and smell the flowers and focus on the beauty around me that’s just waiting for me to notice it. There has been wild swimming in rivers and the sea; just being in the garden, meadow and woods; having a close encounter with a tawny owl in broad daylight; delighting in the burgeoning and blooming hedges and road verges, with flowers of all varieties in every location including growing through tarmac; a group beach clean as well as plenty of picking up 3 bits of litter wherever I am. Being on my own in nature and being with others: teaching groups and sharing my love of the outdoors and being with my family and friends on walks, adventures and just eating under the open sky. So much to celebrate, so much to enjoy with shared memories made.
Listening to the skylarks this morning, once more I was transported back to where I first remember hearing them, in the south west corner of Ireland. It is a very clear memory from my childhood of lying down on my own in some sand dunes (I was so fortunate to live in a time and have parents who allowed and encouraged this!) and listening to the skylarks above me. It makes me smile and feel joyful when I remember I have this childhood marker. It is something I think about with my own children, this exposure to nature, that they have these special reference points for when they reach adulthood. So important to be inspired and learn to love nature for ourselves, and intrinsically for nature - we are connected and rely upon each other. Nature for us can be a source of inspiration, tranquillity and strength. Coupled with this awakening love of nature is keeping a sense of it and not letting it go into adulthood. A quote from Sir David Attenborough made an impression upon me: when asked by a journalist when he found his love of nature, he replied when did you lose yours? I believe it is linked to the mistaken belief that we must put down the toys of our youth and can lose our sense of playfulness and creativity - and our love of nature. Things that are seen as silly and frivolous, I've found, are actually the very things that are utterly essential to a good, meaningful and happy life, such as play, just being, kindness, love, nature connection.
There are many ways of connecting with nature, and like all things in life there will be your favourite way of being in the outdoors, trying different tastes until you find the brew for you. Mine isn’t builders’ tea, I have quite eclectic tea tastes, and so too the array of what I love to do in the outdoors. The array of tea I love has changed as I have grown alongside my outdoor pursuits. It is all about the tasting and testing until you find what you really like and what works best for you. Despite the too “early protests” this morning, I am not a night owl and I know I prefer to be up with the lark.
“O Great Spirit, whose voice I hear in the winds and whose breath gives life to all the world, hear me. I am small and weak. I need your strength and wisdom. Let me walk in beauty and let my eyes ever behold the red and purple sunset. Make my hands respect the things you have made and my ears grow sharp to hear your voice. Make me wise so that I may understand the things you have taught my people. Let me learn the lessons you have hidden in every leaf and rock. I seek strength not to be greater than my brother or sister but to fight my greatest enemy, myself. Make me always ready to come to you with clean hands and straight eyes so when life fades as the fading sunset my spirit may come to you without shame.” Native American Tradition
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