Outdoor Diary: The Surprising Lessons Nature Gave Me About My Marriage

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We talk about all of the benefits of heading outside and the things you can learn there, but what can it teach you about your relationships?

In this episode Amy ponders the surprising lesson conquering tough things outside has given her about her marriage to her husband, Luke.

Some of the good stuff:

[:26] Letting your brain be bored

[1:12] The stories we tell ourselves

[2:47] Amy and Luke

[5:10] How to connect with Humans Outside

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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.

One of the benefits of spending a lot of time outside just moving and listening to yourself, overcoming hard things, hearing nature around you and that kind of thing is that you have a lot of time just to think. I find that in running. Others find it by hiking, cycling, fishing, kayaking, backpacking or really even just sitting quietly by a campfire. It’s that “soft fascination” that some of my podcast guests have talked about — something that studies show gives your brain a chance to reset and find a place where it can feel clear, where you can have good ideas. It’s this idea that letting your brain be bored is good for you because it’s in those spaces that you can find inspiration and the ability to overcome.

And so, as I mentioned on the last outdoor diary, I’ve been doing a lot of that recently. I’ve been thinking about the stories I tell myself, about how I am now and who I used to be. I talked last time about how the story I tell myself is that I’m a little outdoorsy — and that the story I used to tell was that I wasn’t outdoorsy at all. But I think we can all agree that none of those things are accurate. If I go outside, I’m outdoorsy. If you go outside, you are too. If I run, I’m a runner. If you hike, you’re a hiker. We do not need to fit anyone’s mold for any specific task.

And, more importantly, these stories that we tell ourselves change what we are willing to do in nature. Are you willing to try to conquer new things and test your limits? If the story you tell yourself is, like me, that tons of flies buzzing around your shoulders really freaks you out, you will always be freaked out by that. And whew it freaks me out. But I’ve started to tell myself a new story about the things that bother — I am here, whatever the thing that I hate is here, and we are all here together — and it’s fine.

And guess what? It’s fine!

I’ve also been thinking about how heading outside has changed my relationship with my husband – and that’s what I want to talk about today. Luke.

Luke and I met when we were going through what I’m going to describe as homeschool college. I did not like him at all. I thought he was really annoying. Over time that changed, obviously, and we’ve been married for 13 years. I followed him around the U.S. for his career in the Army, and then when our relationship started to fall apart thanks to his war injuries and decisions he made as a result, we realized that nature was helping us both heal, and that we needed to refocus our lives to find more time to spend there.

Or rather, I thought what we needed to do was find more time for HIM to spend there. So imagine my surprise when I realized that not only do I also need to heal from stuff, but that things I found by going outside were going to be the ticket. And I had a vague idea that those would include making me closer to my husband but creating shared experiences — we’ve even had a podcast episode about that in Season 1 with Corie Weathers, episode 18 of season 1.

But what I didn’t expect was the way going outside has created a partnership with Luke. Sure, we’ve always been partners because that’s what marriage is in so many ways, especially around those daily tasks or kid raising. But going outside to do big things has taught me to be a partner and look for a partner in a much bigger way. We help each other conquer our goals, fight our demons and find our peace. And we learn to do those things in the rest of our life by practicing them outside.

Sometimes it’s as simple as making space in our lives for the other person to go and do something big. He just spent two nights backpacking, for example, while I did kid duty, and he has helped me find the time to train for my big race. Other times it’s physically being there, cheering someone along — he has joined me on runs I didn’t want to do, and recently drove the Vanimal along a run course handing out otter pops and making sure I had everything I needed. And still other times it’s that quiet coaching that, yes, you can do this and, yes, you will make it. And yes, it’s worth doing.

When you hear someone cheesy-like say that their husband or wife is their best friend, maybe like me you’re like “yeah ok if you say so.” I always thought about heading outside as a way for me to be a better friend to my husband, but I never expected heading outside to go the other way around, showing me how my husband is a best friend to me.

I hope heading into nature gives you these kinds of insights and that you are using the long summer days to see yourself for the amazing person you are — and those around you for who they are, too. As always, you can see my adventures on Facebook and Instagram @Humansoutside, and I’d love to see yours there, too. Share them by tagging #humansoutside365. Until next time, we’ll see you out there.

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