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How Nature Can Help Your Marriage (Corie Weathers)

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  • March 26, 2020

After I started spending at least 20 consecutive minutes outside every day I started wondering how spending time outside helps my relationships. Does it make my marriage better? And if so, why?

I’m so excited to share this conversation with my good friend Corie Weather where we dive into just that. A marriage counselor and Army spouse, Corie is one of my most favorite people in the world.

Some of the good stuff:

[1:40] Corrie’s favorite outdoor space
[3:50] Why military families need specific help
[5:04] What is a “sacred space”
[11:26] Why sharing experiences matters
[16:00] Why going outside is a great way to build shared experiences
[17:10] Why outside is best for building those experiences
[20:25] Finding effort to build relationships
[23:28] Building relationships outside
[30:10] What if you’re not ready for doing more outside
[32:30] How Corie gets outside for her marriage
[36:00] Corie’s most essential outdoor gear
[36:18] Corie’s favorite outdoor gear
[36:34] Corie’s favorite outdoor moments

Connect with this episode:

Things mentioned in the show:
Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage
Kansas 
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Introvert 
American flag 
Coffee
Deployment 
Military reintegration 
Five senses
Melatonin 
Circadian rhythm
Trapeze lessons 
Skeet shooting
Archery 
Grand Teton mountains, Wyoming
Zombie apocalypse
Becoming an Outdoor Woman, Alaska
US Department of Forestry 
Fire pit 
Camping

Corie’s most essential outdoor gear:  
Merrell Boots: https://amzn.to/2wvRnYn

Corie’s favorite outdoor gear:
Multi-room tents: https://amzn.to/2J6OJes

Follow Corie on Facebook

Follow Corie on Instagram

Affiliate links included above.

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Share your own outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.

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Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

AB: Corie Weathers is a licensed professional counselor and Army spouse and the author of one of my favorite books, Sacred Spaces: My Journey to the Heart of Military Marriage, which focuses on building healthy marriage relationships. Corie, welcome to the Humans Outside Podcast and thanks for coming on for this special episode in our Everyday Outside Series. The series, of course, takes a look at what happens if you spend a set amount of time outside every day for a year.

CW: Thank you for having me. I’m super excited to talk to you, Amy.

AB: For our listeners, Corie and I go way back. We are friends. So I am excited to record an episode with you.

CW: Yeah, I’m so excited that you started a podcast about this topic. And yes, like you said, we’ve known each other for a while and we’ve walked through various parts of our journey as spouses and wives and all of that together. So I’m very excited to talk to you.

AB: But first of all, just like we start all of our episodes, we are going to set the scene and take this conversation to your favorite outdoor space. Where are we chatting today?

CW: So I am in Kansas right now where it is super cold and they mean it when they said that Fort Leavenworth is bitter and it’s lovely here, but it’s bitter. So my favorite outdoor space right now, even though it’s super cold, is my front porch that I have worked very hard to make it my spot. So I’ve got two rocking chairs. And I recently put away some of my plants and stuff that really makes it feel like it’s my space. But honestly, being an introvert in a house of all extroverts, my porch is the main place that I can get out at anytime during the day if I need to, and have that alone time and just be outside for a little bit.

AB: And there are some birds out there, and there’s a lot of nature going on. 

CW: There’s birds, there’s bird feeders. The American flag, of course, is amazing out there. No, but I have two rocking chairs and plants, usually have evergreens going so that even during the winter, I’ve got something green that’s outside that smells amazing. I really do love to incorporate all five senses. And so if I can be in a spot that I create, that’s cozy, take a blanket out there and a cup of coffee, it really gives me everything that I need. I know we’re going to unpack that more today, but for me personally, my favorite spot outside is one that I create for myself for the times that I can’t literally just get out and outside in the woods and be by myself or be out camping somewhere. So if I can have access to it, that’s usually what’s most important to me.

AB: I hear that. Okay, so we are going to talk a lot about using the outside today in our relationships, but first, I want to unpack sort of, like set some groundwork with you to talk about your concept of sacred spaces, and just what that means. So I’m just sort of like level setting here. When military couples, military couples experienced special challenges caused by separations and really traumatic events, okay, but that’s not super unique to military couples. Right? So tell us why that’s true, and then we’ll get to what any of this has to do with that going outside thing that we’re all here for.

CW: Yeah. So I mean, obviously military families are experienced with deployments and trainings and their spouse going out in the field, and there’s just shift changes. I work with first responders too, and so there’s a lot of people that are first responders that were veterans that still experience a lot of separations and traumatic events come with that. So, I would say that everybody experiences some kind, the more I talk with people, honestly, even in the civilian culture, people experience separations all the time. And lots of people experienced traumatic events all the time. So it’s not that it’s just unique to us military families. But I do think that the kind of traumatic events that we experience as military families are unique compared to what somebody might experience in the civilian culture. I’m very excited to talk to you today about maybe how being outside can really be a healing thing for those of you who have experienced going through some level of trauma or who are separated, that outside can be a way that brings everybody together.

AB: Talk to us about this term, sacred spaces, which I’m pretty sure you coined. What is a sacred space? What does that mean?

CW: So this kind of goes into my personal marriage story, which I won’t go into in lots of detail. I’ll basically say that my husband, when he went on his first deployment, we had no idea how much that deployment was really going to shape what our marriage would look like when he came back. He came back different because he had had a whole set of experiences that I did not get to have with him. And I think when we get married, especially, we think that we’re going to do everything together, and we’re going to grow together. And this really weird concept that is really false and idealistic to think that, just because we’re married, that we’re going to have all these experiences at the same time together and see the world therefore, the same way. And it’s just not true for anybody, but especially in the military. When you go through deployment, you have a significant amount of time that you’re spending apart. You’re both having these very big experiences during that time. So a year is a long time, three months is even a long time. Four weeks is a long time. And a lot of life can happen in that chunk of time that you’re spending apart. So for us, when he went on that deployment, he had significant loss. He’s a chaplain. So not only did he lose soldiers that were important to him, it was also his responsibility to memorialize his soldiers and make sure the ones that had survived were back on track and ready for mission again and it took a lot from him. And it changed him. You know, there’s a Jewish scripture verse that talks about, and the Old Testament talks about that once you touch a dead body, it just changes you, and that was definitely true for my husband. I know that’s kind of gruesome here and in this episode, but it’s true. A lot of our service members are impacted by death or trauma. And so I, likewise, back at home, was going through my own big experiences, trying to wrestle to toddler boys and trying to do this life by myself and single parent. I’m going through the ups and downs of everything that you can experience in a year-long deployment, as well as knowing my spouse is going through something crazy on the other side of the world, and I can’t experience it with him. So long story short, when he came back from that deployment, we were really clashing. Everybody calls that reintegration, and having just a really hard time getting back in sync with each other. And we found ourselves comparing our big experiences over who had it worse. And of course, as a spouse back at home who wasn’t in a combat situation, I felt like I was losing every time that my experiences weren’t as significant as his experiences, because I could never compare that to a deployment overseas. But what really was true was that we both had gone through something significant, we both had been changed by it, and we needed a new language to be able to talk about it and get on the same page together. So it was at some point, we’re in conflict about this when we just, I think it was my husband that actually said this. We were talking about something significant he had gone through. And I think I hadn’t interrupted him, like you do during the conflict. And he said, “This is a sacred space for me. This conversation, this event that happened, it’s sacred. It’s set apart from the normal everyday experiences of everything I’ve experienced in my life. And it’s sacred.” Not necessarily meaning spiritual, although it can be, but sacred meaning just different, set apart, like something to revere, something to like, just respect. It says something that’s taking significant space in my story. And I think from that point forward, we use that phrase “sacred space” as a way to cue each other and these conversations that — hey, this is a big event that happened with me, and you weren’t there with me to experience it. So it’s not something you can fully understand but it was a multi-sensory experience that, you know, when I went through a car, actually with my kids in the car and he wasn’t there, that was a multi-sensory experience. I remember the feeling of the car sliding on the ice. I remember what I heard, I remember seeing the boys being scared, it was a multi-sensory experience. And by me being able to say to my husband — it’s okay that you don’t understand what that moment was like. And it’s also okay that you weren’t there when it happened. But it’s a sacred space in my life that takes up significant space in my story. And I’m now different because I went through that. That phrase really began, for us, a way to communicate to each other, to connect with each other again, and to respect this big significant gap – or gaps – that was really being created between the two of us.

AB: I love this concept because I just love how it transcends the military experience. You know, I think of transformative experiences that I’ve had and, and a lot of them do happen outside when I’m in nature. Whether that’s, you know, coming up to the top of mountain peak here in Alaska and just – I can see it before my eyes while I’m talking to you – it’s just this landscape that just really just sucks your breath. I mean, just literally takes your breath away, right? And there aren’t even words to describe this beauty and the work you did to get there and this moment where you feel so small and so big at the same time, and how that can change your outlook on the world in such an incredible way. Well, my spouse wasn’t there for that, right? But at the same time, he’s had similar experiences outside himself. Today, as we’re speaking, he is down at a ski resort here in Alaska, taking advantage of a discounted military day they have and you take the tram up to the top of this huge mountain, and you can see the world and it is a transformative experience up there. So that’s an experience he’s having. But since I started spending time outside every day, I found that it wasn’t often with him, right? Because, you know, he’s at home or it just that’s the way it works, right? And maybe it was a big trip like backpacking experience or going somewhere new and exciting, adventurous, or maybe it was something simple, like going for a walk in the woods and seeing something new there. So tell me why do those things matter? Why do those shared experiences matter?

CW: I think, you know, when all this started with “sacred spaces” and coining that term, I got so many messages from people that weren’t even in the military that were, like you said, so many were outside experiences. A sunrise that changed their life, or a moment with God somewhere outside that changed their life. And so, no doubt that sacred space is transcendent for everybody. It’s just a phrase that helps you communicate to people, something significant happened in this moment. I think no doubt, being outside, where it’s a multi-sensory experience – the things that your eyes are taking in when you describe that mountaintop just now, like I even try to picture in my mind what that must have been like and my faint perspective of even trying to imagine it doesn’t even compare to what you experienced because you also had the feeling of the wind or how cold the air was, or what you could also hear. And those are things that I can’t do with my imagination. So, these significant moments that you can have apart and separate are fine. It’s okay to have sacred moments that are sacred spaces that are individual just but for you, or just between you and God, and those are great. But in marriage, I found that especially for so many people who have a lot of big sacred spaces, that kind of pulled them apart because we just can’t understand each other. That being able to do something that we call a shared sacred space together is a way that you actually create really positive shared memories together. So Amy, if you wouldn’t mind, I’m just going to kind of briefly go through kind of the science of that. Basically, your brain, the way that you create memories in your brain is through your five senses. I mean, I can get into all the hormones and stuff and I’m not, but through the amygdala, like it’s the same thing that when you have a traumatic experience, the area of your brain that lights up the five senses in your body, it’s like, it’s almost like it wakes up. And when you have that adrenaline that dumps in your body, whether it’s a great, amazing, wonderful experience on top of a mountaintop, or whether it’s a traumatic experience, those five senses light up, and it’s almost like you’re taking in all this information. And that’s what creates a memory in your mind. So whether it’s a traumatic memory or a positive memory, either way, it’s life-changing because your five senses took in so much all at once and then saved it like in this one little space in your mind. The next time you smell that same smell, it lights up that area of your brain again, it’s almost like it takes you back to that moment. You had that significant life-changing moment. So, understandably, especially for a lot of our military that are listening, if you’ve had these significant experiences apart from each other, those can accumulate over time and you find I find in marriages, over time, we are growing more and more distant from each other. So this idea of having a shared sacred space gives you the power to take back in your relationship to go — you know what, we may have a lot of experiences that are separate, but we do have control of having shared moments together for more intentional memories. So if you can go backpacking outside and do something that’s a multi-sensory experience that you know, especially if you are intentionally prepared to be very present in the moment and listen to your five senses together, it will create a shared memory for your relationship. And my whole passion really, for couples, is to be able to encourage them that the more shared positive sacred spaces you create together, it will counterbalance the separate ones that you’ve had, whether they’re positive or negative, and you can have more influence and bring your relationship together. So just like you said, with backpacking, camping, or just going for a walk outside down the street, going outside creates that easier way to engage your five senses quickly than just sitting in front of the TV and watching TV.

AB: Part of that’s a time investment, right? It’s just like the act of spending time together. And you know, I don’t know if it’s just me, but the outside gives me a great way to do that, a great maybe an excuse or a daily practice where I’m doing it anyway. So it might as well be, you know, two birds with one stone. I find the concept of two birds with one stone irresistible. I can do two things at once? I’m in, right? So maybe that’s that side of me where I simply cannot resist this idea of building relationship with my spouse and getting in my 20 minutes.

CW: We’re not trying to be perfect here. We have these shows that we’re binge watching. It’s so easy to just sit on the couch. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying shows together, and having that kind of shared experience together. But I’m telling you that there’s something intentional, like you said, to be able to even just decide — I’m going to go for a walk around the block or down the street. It’s an intentional choice. That’s not just two minutes of looking at your spouse and saying you checked in for the day. That walk carves out automatically that 10 minutes that can easily turn into 30 minutes. Because if the weather is nice, you can get outside and you don’t want to come inside after 10 minutes, you want to walk longer. And so you’ve automatically turned into what would have been two hours not even connecting with each other, watching a show, to now two hours being engaged outside and conversation, all of your senses being engaged, and really creating an amazing memory for both of you.

AB: And that’s of course why outside is better than inside in this instance. Is there any other reason that that’s true that it’s especially impactful? Because you’re outside in nature? Is it the five senses thing that we’ve just talked about? Or is there more?

CW: I think it is. I mean, I think it definitely is the five senses on the scientist side of that, but you know, I’m sure you’ve covered what vitamin D is. We’re all lacking with vitamin D. And especially if you’re in a cold environment where you’re not really able, or you think you’re not able, to get outside very often, more than ever, our culture is having to get vitamin D supplements. And vitamin D is what boosts your mood. It’s what makes you feel content and happy. And so I have found so many times with counseling, even where I’m going — when was the last time you stepped outside and breathed a breath of fresh air? There’s a fantastic organization, I think it’s in Virginia Beach, called the Virginia High Performance Group, and they specialize in taking veterans and helping them with all kinds of things like TBI and all kinds of stuff. But one of the things they do from the very beginning is that the first thing in the morning, you spend an hour outside. And part of that is to reset and recalibrate your system so that you’re kind of up with the sun. You know, a couple generations ago, people were up before the sun even came up, but you are waking up at the same time every day because your body anticipated the sun coming up and you worked outside and did something that involved your body. And so being outside breathing that air that’s not just circulated through your filter in your house, but just being outside, getting that sunlight that also gives you a dose of vitamin D, it boosts everything in your body. And it’s just like a good day on the ski slopes like your husband or at the beach after a good dose of vitamin D, you’re just happier. You sleep better, your melatonin goes up at night. There’s just so much science that just shows like just get outside. Get off your device and you’d be surprised at how much better you feel.

AB: There’s the circadian rhythm thing which is, of course, one of the terms for getting up with the sun and going by sort of sunlight, is all well and good until you live up here where the sun doesn’t rise until 10am. And every year I struggle you know, we do take a lot of vitamin D, almost, you know, I’ve heard that every Alaskan is vitamin D deficient and so just take it and be done with it. So we do that, but also in the wintertime you have to fight. You know, I do go outside every day but you have to try harder. And it’s not just because you have to own more jackets. You have to emotionally try harder to go outside because your brain and your body says — it’s dark, I think I’ll hear some more. In the summertime, I find that I don’t need as much sleep, which is weird for me to say because I’m very much on the you need seven to eight hours of sleep every day, don’t argue with me about that train. But for me in the summertime, I will blink at the clock and realize it’s 1030 at night and then get up at 4am no problem. In the wintertime, I’m limping to 8pm and wishing to sleep past seven.

CW: We could go down a rabbit hole of talking even about Seasonal Affective Disorder. Because if you’re in a really tough place like Alaska where you do have to be more intentional and more creative, some people do have to, in order to get that vitamin D, use those lights. That can really help. But I will tell you, I love kind of what you’re saying, Amy, about that it takes more effort both emotionally and physically to make sure that you get outside. And I actually want to correlate that to how much effort we also need to put into our relationship and goes back to killing those two birds with one stone. That being in a relationship, it takes a lot of work and takes a lot of intentionality, and just like your commitment to going outside also takes a lot of emotional and physical commitment and intention to get yourself out there, because you promised yourself you would do it. And so being able to put both of those together and say — we as a couple are going to create this new habit of going for that walk, or sitting outside, or sitting by a fire pit, or whatever that looks like. It is the same amount of effort but bringing along this other goal that you have at the same time with it that you can actually better your relationship and also better your body and better your mood and better who you are by doing this at the same time together.

AB: What are some practical ways folks can get outside and build their relationship while doing it? Practical couple relationship building through heading outside advice: go!

CW: So definitely, if you don’t know where to start – literally sitting outside next to a fire pit or just sitting on a porch, that’s why I created a porch spot that’s really great, and where two people can sit. But for a lot of people, I say just go for a walk. Just get outside and go for a walk around the block every night after dinner. Maybe that’s something that you do. Even if it’s raining, get outside together and say — this is not something that I’m going to just walk the dog. We’re both going to walk the dog together. Connect all you can. And don’t be afraid of this if you have small children. Take your kids with you, it’s a great time to get them on that bike or practice riding that bike. This is not something that you have to feel limited by. But if you are, like you’re saying, in a cold spot or in a place that it’s just really challenging to do, then be intentional at planning more outside time together. So if it’s not something where going for a walk every night is practical, you can be practical by you know, if you’re active duty, MWR rents campers and equipment and everything that you need. It’s just a matter of you calling people and getting those things together and planning it ahead of time. So, practically speaking, be more intentional on putting something on the calendar. You know, if you don’t put it on the calendar, it’s not going to happen. So get it on the calendar and make it fun to plan together. 

I’ve heard of some people doing fun things like signing up for lessons to do something that you didn’t ever think to do before. So I know one couple that did trapeze lessons. I know that’s crazy, but their response was — your dinner conversation is so much different after doing something crazy like taking trapeze lessons. There’s another couple who went into town and did the motorized scooter tours. Like not just regular scooters, but the segway tours where you’re standing and you’re all over town and you’re touring a town on scooters. Do something that is multi-sensory, then maybe do something that you haven’t done, that you’re not used to doing, that ‘s a little bit out of your comfort zone. You’d be surprised how much tension melts away in your relationship when you’re giggling together because you feel so awkward and you’re both doing something brand new. Amy, you also saw the impact of getting outside and trying something new like skeet shooting or archery. How amazing that was to be outside in the Grand Teton Mountains and  learning a new skill. So even doing something like that where you’re learning something new together and outside at the same time. I think it does wonders for relationships.

AB: Yes, fun fact: I went on a military spouse retreat with Corie and a group of other military spouses in the Grand Tetons and there was skeet shooting, in which I discovered I have been trying to use the wrong dominant eye for quite some time, also known as my whole life. And also, I discovered that I am not particularly good at archery. Therefore, if there is a zombie apocalypse, I am in charge of the snacks, not the killing.

CW: You are great, Amy. But you know what, I hear this all the time, this happened for me too. We just happen to, and this doesn’t exist everywhere, but we just happened to move to an installation that has, not only a shooting range, but also skeet shooting available for families. I would have never taken my kids or gone on a date with my husband skeet shooting, had we not experienced that in Wyoming. So sometimes it’s just about being intentional, trying something new, and kind of getting over that initial fear or embarrassment of trying that new thing. Because once you’ve done it once, it’s not that new anymore, and you’re going to feel more confident the second time you do it. So it may open up a whole new world of things outside to do that you would have never thought you would have wanted to do. But now you’ve got this list of things that on any given day, you could say — you know what, let’s go try this. So it was a fantastic experience in Wyoming. And I highly encourage everybody to at least think about going somewhere fun like that and experiencing even a new area of outside that you’ve never experienced. If you’ve never been to the mountains, you got the real amazing mountains, Colorado, Wyoming, Alaska, you know, maybe planning a trip like that, doing something that really is over the top that blows your mind and changes your life. But if you don’t have access to that, there’s some things that you can do even in town that are brand new, that would be super fun.

AB: One fun and sort of neat program that a lot of people don’t know about is called, that’s run through many states’ Departments of Fish and Game, is called Becoming an Outdoor Woman. We have it up here in Alaska, but it’s actually a nationwide program, and they partner with the Department of Fish and Game or the Department of Forestry in the state, and conduct classes that are female-specific. So for our female listeners, if learning a new skill in an imposing sort of atmosphere that maybe is male-dominated, or you’re feeling it’s imposing because you think everyone else knows what they’re doing, but you don’t – even though I am captain of the feminist squad here – I found a huge benefit to doing a female-focused class in some of the shooting and hunting sports. Because while I have no intention of really doing those things full time, I just personally don’t find them that enjoyable, I now totally can. And my husband, who I love doing stuff with outside, but because of his job in the Army is an expert, expert marksman. He has no problem with any of these things. But when it’s time for him to teach me, my defenses go up. I just don’t want to learn from him for whatever reason, it’s not an enjoyable experience. But now that I’ve taken a class and some of the stuff and gained some confidence for myself, when we have gone out after that, it’s much more comfortable for both of us. I think that’s because he doesn’t have a lot of pressure to teach me how to do something that I already have my guard up about. And I’m walking in with some earned confidence that I can do whatever this thing is, without completely relying on him to show me how to do it and make sure I don’t kill myself. So I’ve found these classes to be great. They’re very affordable because they’re operated through our Department of Forestry. We even have a several day retreat up here called Becoming an Outdoor Woman that I need to absolutely look up so I do not miss it this year because it is a must-go-to event in my book.

CW: Well, and let me bring up something. You brought up a really good point, Amy. I want to speak to those that are listening that may be hearing this and maybe they’re not ready yet. Or they’re thinking about spending more time outside and maybe they’re listening to this and they’re saying — you know, what if I don’t want to do all the camping stuff, or the stuff that feels very male-dominated, what if I don’t want to shoot guns and do archery and skin things, right? I just want to point out that in marriage, it’s really amazing when you can really get your marriage to a place where it’s a, I want to use the phrase “give and take” but it is more so about collaborating together and taking turns. And so while I think it’s super important to know, I’m going to be stereotypical here, just for those that fit within that box I guess. But you know if your husband, let’s say, loves to do things that are outside and and his love is that outdoorsy kind of person, then it is helpful to to at least either take a class or enjoy or see if you can kind of step into his world just a little bit and experience some of the joy that he gets from doing what it is that he loves to do outside. But I think it should go the other way around, too. And there’s things that you can do that are different from archery and camping and all those kinds of things that you can enjoy and figure out what you love to do outside and ask your husband to join you in that. So it kind of goes on both sides. So if your thing is going for runs outside, or sitting outside on the porch, or going for walks after dinner, where you have more emotional dialogue, and that’s kind of your thing, that I think a healthy marriage can go back and forth. It’s almost like two concentric circles that overlap, but they’re not, you know, marriage isn’t two circles that overlap one everything together with no independence. There’s two totally different personalities that love different things. But if those circles can kind of come together and you can enjoy the things in the middle that you share, but then every now and then you kind of go to his side and his circle and see what it is that he loves to do and kind of support that. And ask him to be able to come back and do the same thing on the things that you enjoy that may not be his thing, but he’s willing to kind of support you and do it and see why you love it so much. That’s what I think is a healthy relationship.

AB: You mentioned that you do this for yourself. You said that you have two rocking chairs in a space that, it sounded like, you created the space for yourself because like me, you’re an introvert. But nonetheless, you have two chairs there. Tell me about that. 

CW: Definitely when the weather is nice, we have the rocking chairs outside that have now thankfully found a place in the last two places we’ve lived. And we also love the firepit. I’ve kind of drug my husband on walks lately. But once he gets out there he’s like, “Why aren’t we doing this more often?” And that’s one of my favorite parts. Once I get him away from, I think the stress and all his all the thinking that’s happening in his strategic mind, he really actually likes to go for walks and take the dog. I personally love camping. So one of the struggles, I’ll be vulnerable here, one of the struggles that we have as a couple is that I love to be in the woods and I love to go off the grid. And that’s that kind of introverted side of me. And my husband used to love that, but Afghanistan just ruined it for him. And he was waking up every day with bug nets, and camel spiders, you know, on the bug net, like in front of his face. And he’s not a spider person, you know, and he just, the outdoors just did him in his couple deployments. So it’s not his favorite thing to do now. But after 21 years of marriage, we’ve now gotten to this place where it’s okay. It’s okay that I love to be outside and am looking into getting a camper and he’ll go with me camping, but we’re kind of getting this place where it’s okay for me to want to go camping and go with a couple of friends or go with my boys and not necessarily be something that he has to feel like he has to do if it’s something he’s not as comfortable doing. So there’s definitely things that we are doing together. And he’ll go with me and he’ll make sure that it’s an amazing experience.

 But I’ve also gotten to a place where I’m okay with the fact that he doesn’t love something as much as I do. And for us personally in our marriage, that’s huge growth. But I know as an introvert, I have to go off the grid and I have to get, not only away from the quiet in the house, I have to get away from all the devices and get away from the world at least once a month, if not every three months like quarterly, just really go off the grid to clear my mind. In order for me to stay, I think well in my mind. But if I have to, I know now that at least two days a week, if not every morning, I need to go outside by myself or go for a run to clear my mind and get that fresh air for my own sake. So I think it’s also being very self aware of your mind and your body and knowing what works for you and knowing exactly what you need. And to know that that’s going to be different for everybody. Introverts need that time where it’s really quiet, like super quiet, like not even earphones or earbuds in with music playing. Just super quiet, where we can hear the birds and the wind, whereas extroverts might need the opposite. They need to sit around the fire pit and sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and dialogue and be engaged in conversation. So it’s a little bit about knowing yourself and also knowing those that you live with, but being able to ask for those things for yourself. And I think that’s been a huge growth for us in our relationship in the last probably five years, is being able to ask for what we need, not feel bad about that, and own it and actually then do it. And so that’s kind of the last year, I realized — okay, that’s what I have to do. I have to go for a run, I have to go for a walk.

AB: That makes such perfect sense. 

Okay, we’ve come to the part of our episode, where we do the lightning round, special episode or not. We are lightning round people here because I just have questions that just don’t fit in the rest of the podcast anywhere. So we’re going to do it. What is your most essential outdoor gear?

CW: Okay, so lightning round. I’m just going to say my Merrell boots that my husband talked me into when I went to Afghanistan. I thought I didn’t need them and I was so glad walking over gravel that I had gotten my Merrell boots. So a good pair of boots are amazing. 

AB: What’s your favorite outdoor gear? 

CW: I would say our most recent tent that we got – this like a multi-room tent. I just love the fact that you can be outside, but then you know, the kids are with you or whatever. There’s plenty of space that you can be outside and inside. That’s my favorite.

AB: What is your favorite outdoor moment?

CW: I have so many. One of the first ones that came to my mind, because there was also some from being overseas. I’m gonna give you two because I can’t not. One from overseas was when I was on a helicopter flying over the Persian Gulf with the back open, and we were just flying just flying over the Persian Gulf ocean and landing on an aircraft carrier. It was unbelievably amazing to get all of that salt air and to see the water and to hear the rumbling of this helicopter and to smell the diesel. I understood other service members, like when they go back in time when they hear helicopter blades, like I totally get it now. But I was gonna say otherwise, there was just a really sweet moment one time when we were camping with our kids and they fought us on going camping. And I remember us at one point sitting around the fire and the boys, who had kind of gotten past that arguing about boredom, and then finally just picked up sticks and were whittling sticks with their knives. And they sat there for hours just whittling these sticks and had the best time. It reminded me that just because they complain about it doesn’t mean they can’t get to a place where they finally cross over to that moment and realize that they can enjoy it, too.

AB: What’s what’s something that you thought you’d never do outside but you’ve totally done anyway?

CW: Okay, one thing that I never thought I would do. I climbed this mountain in Colorado and you have to go up hundreds and hundreds of rail steps – like they took a railway from like a train, railroad tracks, and they made these steps. It was doing like literally 200 lunges for two straight hours up the mountain to get to the top – this is the incline in Manitou Springs in Colorado Springs. I never thought that I would do two hours of lunges, like deep lunges, to get to the topof Colorado Springs. It’s pretty amazing, though. Amazing. So that’s one thing that I never thought that I would do that I truly wish I could totally do again. 

AB: See, there you go. The outside’s great for that. Thank you so much for being on the Humans Outside Podcast today. 

CW: And thank you, Amy. Thank you so much for having me, good friend. I appreciate how you’re changing my life by encouraging me to go outside every day and my life is different because of it. Thank you.

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