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It’s one of my top skills. Few people are as good as I am at making sweeping declarations that they will never ever do a certain thing, only to later not only do the thing but really like it. I have countless examples of this, but here are just a few:
In 2010 I said I would never again do a high-ropes course. And then, in 2018, I did a high ropes course and loved it.
In 2009 I said I would never run a marathon. I’ve now done at least five.
And in a 2016 episode of the house hunting show Living Alaska that gets regularly replayed, I proclaimed to the world that I would NOT be skiing. Ever. Guess what I did no kidding four times just this past week alone?
Uh-huh. I went skiing. And I liked it.
In short, being open to trying new things or things that are outside my comfort zone is not one of my top skill sets. In fact, I’d say my one of my skill sets is stubbornly avoiding those things. But heading outside has a way of presenting me with opportunities to happily eat more words. I just have to be open to the opportunities when they find me.
And that’s a fine attitude to have — not being closed off, but not exactly looking for change. But what if we took a different track? What if instead of just doing the same thing all the time, we hunted for new things to do?
In the episode 84 outdoor diary we talked about what you should do outside every day for your 20 minutes, or however long you’re shooting to spend outside as a part of your outdoor habit. We talked about the fact that there is no right or wrong activity, so long as you are outside. We talked about the value of trying new things, and also about the ease of sticking with the familiar.
Maybe you walked away from that episode wishing you had the time, motivation or maybe even courage to chase new experiences outside. Maybe, like me, you wonder if some of this try new stuff is for when you’re less busy, or the weather is better, or the sun is out longer, or … or … or …
Well, I’m here to tell you that there is only one way to get around to trying new things outside: stop making excuses, and just do it.
For me, that means I need to set a goal of trying something new a certain number of times each month or week. Since so much of my outdoor time is based on the season, I like to start each new season with a list of new things I want to try, and then schedule them in. This winter has been a little hard that as I’m still recovering from hip surgery, so learning to skate ski, which was my top goal, is now off the table. Instead I chose to make a goal of classic cross country skiing when I can, instead of avoiding it. I also decided to try spending time outside when it’s dark so I can see the stars, something I’ve not done before. Then, when I’m thinking of how I plan to spend my time outside on any given day, I check back in with whether I’ve done the new things I wanted to do.
I also have bigger goals that take a little planning. I wanted to experience winter cabin camping this year, including some cabins we have to hike into. And that took making a plan and booking the cabins. I wanted to go to Hawaii for the first time, and that took planning the vacation. And I want to do a winter tour of the Matanuska Glacier. I haven’t booked that yet, but I plan to. So this will be some accountability to make that happen.
More than anything else, the way to make yourself try new things outside comes back to that big “I” word I keep using here: intentionality. Going outside and building a nature habit takes intentionality. Doing new things takes intentionality. Stepping outside your comfort takes, you guessed it, intentionality.
And dressing in winter? Intentionality. Again. And it’s because of that I’ve been talking in our weekly outdoor diary episodes about winter gear, feet to head. On these episodes I always highlight a piece of gear that makes getting out the best it can be, calling it my weekly outdoor hero. And the right winter gear certainly qualifies. So far we’ve discussed boots, socks, base layer and mid-layer. Today? We’re talking that top layer.
What you wear as your final layer is really dependent on what you’re doing outside and the weather there. If it’s wet, you want something waterproof or water repellent be it a rain jacket or a ski jacket or a soft or hard shell jacket. If it’s dry, you can make your final layer an insulated puffy jacket. On your legs your final layer might be ski pants, rain pants or whatever pants you put on for the day. As always, stay away from cotton — denim is really one of the worst things you can wear. The only time you’ll catch me outside in the winter in jeans is if I’m out for a short walk and they are under my puffy pants. Of course, you’ve heard me talk about The Pants, which is puffy pant that is exactly what we’ve been talking about today: a top layer.
And how warm or breathable this top layer is needs to depend on the temperature and what you’re doing. Really ridiculously cold? You want something really puffy and warm, obviously. Windy? You want a top layer that is going to keep that crap from hitting your body. What you like to wear as an outer layer takes a little experimentation, I’m sorry to say, and can be specific to you and wether you, personally, tend to be hot or cold. I run cold, so you’ll see me wearing all the puffy layers — and sometimes when other folks think they are over the top. But you know what? I dont care if I look like a marshmallow as long as I’m warm.
You can catch me looking like a marshmallow on Instagram and Facebook by following HumansOutside. Keep an eye on our social media for some upcoming awesome giveaways celebrating the Humans Outside podcast 1 year anniversary AND our upcoming winter gear guide. We’re going to have some chances to score some sweet gear on the free — and you dont want to miss it.
And of course, I want to see your outdoor time, too. So share it on Facebook and Instagram with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.