Outdoor Diary: Learning to Hear What You Need Through Nature

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It can be difficult to hear what your body and soul need when life gets really hectic or the long days stack up. Building that outdoor habit and heading outside daily have helped Amy and her family listen to their own needs and know what to do about them. Hear what happened in this episode of the Humans Outside Outdoor Diary.

Some of the good stuff:

[:27] Can we stay out a little longer?

[2:30] Take it outside

[3:16] What we need from nature

[4:22] Where to find Humans Outside

Connect with this episode:

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Follow us on Instagram and share your outdoor life with the hashtag #humansoutside365.

Here’s an edited transcript of this installment of Amy’s Outdoor Diary. Listen to the episode on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever you find your favorite podcasts.

It was one of the first really cold days of the season. As we walked through the woods this week one day after school, the air temperature hovered in the mid-teens. I was there to check-off my outdoor time box after an incredibly stressful and hectic workday on one of the busiest days of my year. My sons were home from school, and I was feeling lucky that we made it outside before the sun set at about 4:30 p.m.

We were about to loop back towards the house when I heard Huck, my 9 year old.

“Mom, can we stay out a little longer?” he asked.

I paused as I took in the realization that this moment was exactly what I had been working towards. His words, I realized, were the embodiment of what I had wanted him to think and feel since the day I first started my outdoor habit in 2017. And even though I was in a hurry to get home to continue on with the one million things I had to do, I knew that there was only one available answer to this request.

“Absolutely,” I told him.

We continued our outdoor time another 20 minutes, double what I set out to do as my minimum. I checked back in with him. “Are you feeling ready to head back?”

“Yup!” he said. He had spent those 20 extra minutes parading down the path, hitting bushes with a medium-sized stick. It wasn’t an elaborate way to spend time, but it gave him joy after a day in his classroom. Watching him understand that being outside after school made him a happier person gave me my joy, just as the extra time breathing in that cold air and realizing that in that moment I had passed on to my young son an appreciation of what heading outside for a little bit of time can give you.

It also made me stop and ponder whether I was really rushing to go back inside for a good reason or if, like Huck, I could spare some more to wander and recover under those trees. I think we all know the answer.

That moment in the woods and the question he asked carried me through the rest of my busy week, too. On Friday as I sat through a day of pretty stressful classes, every fiber of my being wanted to run away. But instead I asked myself what I could to make it more tolerable. How could I make myself feel better right then?

The answer: take it outside. Since it was in mid-teens again, the best way to do that while also sitting still and listening was to head into the hot tub. And so that’s what I did. I wonder what the instructor would’ve thought about my method of self care in that moment. But I was able to pay more attention to what they were saying there than I was while sitting still inside my house. It was what I needed in the moment. I listened to myself and took that step.

Huck and I both put words and actions to a feeling we have taught ourselves since we started spending more time outside: understanding what we need and acting accordingly. For Huck on that after school walk it was not heading inside just yet and lingering on the path just a little bit longer. For me, the answer was found in understanding that what I really wanted was to put that class in the context of staring at snow-laden trees from my deck. Had the weather been good, I would’ve done that from a chair, since it wasn’t, the hot tub was the answer.

And so I wonder: what do you need that heading into nature this week can give you? Is it a pause? A change of perspective? The comfort and safety of simplicity? A moment to breathe? A chance to see something magical and beautiful?

Whatever it is you’re searching for, whatever moment or thought you need, nature can give you this week. For me it is a grounding, a release, a reminder of my place in this world. For Huck it was a chance to whack out the day. What will it be for you?

You can see photos of my outdoor time on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And I invite you to share yours with me using #Humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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