Outdoor Diary: Learning to Seek What You Need from Nature

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Humans Outside episode 197

The great thing about nature is that it will always have what you need. But how do you know what that is? In this episode, Amy talks about a little bit of her journey to understand how to get what she needs from heading outside.

Some of the good stuff:

[:45] How seeking what I need got started
[2:00] The unique thing about a relationship with nature
[2:11] Why you’re not actually giving anything back so don’t say you are
[2:25] Why nature is like a buffet
[3:00] How people figure out what they need
[3:40] What you really have to do
[3:51] What I’ve been up to

Connect with this episode:

The day I first had the idea for a daily outdoor challenge was a rainy Memorial Day weekend in 2017. If you haven’t heard me talk about this before, here’s a recap. I wanted Alaska to have made-to-order summer weather at the moment I desired it. Alaska said “ha, no.” I was pouting, reading Harry Potter in on again, off again rain. And I realized that if I didn’t change my attitude, things were not going to get easier. That’s because weather doesn’t change on demand.

But sometimes, humans can. So I stood up and decided I was going to get outside anyway. And my first order of business was going back inside to order some rain pants so that future rain wouldn’t get us down, pack up the kids and head out for a short hike. It was great. It was what I needed. And it was the start of this big adventure, that eventually turned into the Humans Outside 365 Challenge, this podcast, my connection with you and so many more wonderful things.

On that day in 2017 what I needed was inspiration to change my life for myself. And nature gave it to me. Wasn’t that nice of it?

Since then I’ve learned that my relationship with heading outside is me always taking and naturen always giving. That’s marvelous for me. What other relationship do you have where you never have to give anything back? And before you say you DO give things back to nature, let me ask this: really? Because maybe it’s true that while you’re out there picking up trash or whatever really excellent things seem like giving back, you’re not – you’re just taking care of you in nature just like every other time, but this time with a trash bag. But I digress.

I never, ever have to give to nature. It always only gives to me. But what it does not do is serve up exactly what I want every time.

Nature is like a buffet. Here’s your huge array of food. What do you need today? What is nourishing? What is delicious? What will make you feel good, and full and happy? To get what I need from it, I have to know what I’m looking for. I have to learn to identify it. I have to learn to seek it.

That, I think, comes back to a practice of listening. Some people find this through meditation, getting outside and breathing and being still. Some people find this through movement. You head out there and you physically do something, and while you’re doing that part of your brain that just needs a little air flips on and BAM, you have passive thoughts and you know what you need like magic. Some people find this by conquering. There you are, tackling a big challenge, getting to the top of the literal mountain or finishing the literal race and, holy cats, you see it all laid out in front of you. You know what you need and you can receive it.

What does not work is standing outside your door and saying OK nature, hit me. You have to build a practice of searching, finding, gathering, taking, using, thanking and then doing it all again the next day. It requires intentionality. It might require a little planning. It requires building and keeping a habit.

And it requires an open willingness to receive.

I’m just getting back to some running after spraining my ankle a few weeks ago, so i’ve had lots of still time or easy walks outside recently to think about the whole parade of ways nature serves me while I use it. I’ve also been able to watch the buds come out on the trees, and the green shoots poke from the ground. You may have all the flowers in the world where you are right now, but in my front yard we have what I’m going to call the rumor of tulips. One of the spectacular things about Alaska is that when things decide they are ready to grow, they do it very quickly. And so I’m sure the rumor will turn into real life flowers in very short order. And I’m ready for it. Bring on the hours and hours of sunshine and new life, Alaska.

I’m getting back into outdoor movement now, but you can see some shots of how I have been spending my time on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And I want to see yours, too. Tag it with #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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