Outdoor Diary: What I’ve Learned from 2 Years of Humans Outside

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The Humans Outside podcast hits its two-year anniversary this week. Two years! That’s two years of episodes with outdoor-minded guests who have taught Amy (and you) countless lessons about heading into nature. In this episode hear about why the Humans Outside podcast got started and just some of the things Amy has learned through podcasting for two years.

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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.

Two years. 5 seasons. 180 episodes. 75 interviews. 48,000 listens. That’s just a taste of the Humans Outside podcast by numbers. I record this outdoor diary just a day or two before you can hear it, and today as I’m recording it is the actual 2nd anniversary of the Humans Outside Podcast heading into the world.

I was sitting among new and old friends, helping with a woman-focused small business conference as a part of my full time job when I had the idea for the podcast. I’m a print – both actual newspaper and online reporter for almost 20 years now – so I’m used to writing about stuff. There’s a few stereotypes about newspaper reporters that are pretty reliably true. And one of them is that print reporters often have radio crushes. We love the idea of writing news with our voices. That means I had long loved the idea of podcasting as a way of doing the radio thing without actually doing the radio thing. But I lacked the courage to jump in.

I had been doing my outdoor experiment – 20 minutes outside every day for a year – as something just for me for over two years. I had been posting my daily photo online, slowly collecting followers like you, who felt the same way about the importance of building a nature habit. And I had toyed with writing a book about it. But a podcast? That seemed like something that would be too hard, too scary.

And yet, as I sat in that room with those women, the idea came on me and sat there. I didn’t just kind of want to do this. I NEEDED to do this. If you’ve ever read Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, you know what I’m talking about. And if you haven’t, I’ve linked it in the show notes because I’m helpful like that. I had NOT read it at the time, but I do find that ideas kind of work the way she says. But anyway, I digress.

I came home from that conference with a plan: I was going to relaunch my long dormant website, Humans Outside. And I was going to create the Humans Outside Podcast. I had only an inkling of what I was getting myself into or how enriching and glorious it would all be.

The first thing to know about podcasting is that it’s a TON of work and far from free. For each of those wonderful interviews I get to turn into an episode, I spend hours and hours researching, interviewing, editing and prepping. Then, I have a wonderful virtual assistant, Laura Troxel, who gets together recording details for the guest, gets the notes ready for you, creates the podcast art and makes sure everything is good to go. And it doesn’t stop there, but you don’t want to hear about all of that.

The second thing to know is that podcasting is a wonderful privilege and gift. Back when I walked into my first newspaper in Washington, D.C. I had this moment one day while getting ready to interview an author about a fascinating new book I had read — an interview and story I was doing simply because I found it interesting. I felt like I had found the keys to the world. You mean I can learn about anything I find fascinating, and talk to the person who actually did the work, study or adventures, they’ll answer all of my questions and then I get to tell other people about it? WHOA.

And that’s how I felt when I started this podcast. You mean I get to talk to people about the thing I find most exciting and interesting in the whole world — spending time outside — and share that with other people? Unbelievable.

I’ve learned a few important things during this podcast journey for the last two years and 180 episodes that I want to share with you. These aren’t specific things taught by individual guests, so much as my broad takeaways.

First, no matter how much you think you already know about going outside or ways to make it better for you, or things to think about while you’re out there, no matter how much you think you’re an expert in one thing or another, the best thing about the outside is that it is always changing and there is always something to learn. Over the 75 interviews I’ve published with guests who have been so generous as to give us their insight and advice, I have learned something important from each and every one. I have learned about simple gear that makes my outside time way better — like the Kula cloth. I have learned about having a better attitude to tackle challenges, something so many have taught me. I have learned that limits are only what you think they are.

Second, every single person who goes outside has something of value to teach me and you — whether they be the first person to ever kayak the Amazon River from source to sea like Darcy Geachter or Vicky Derksen, who thought stargazing was cool so she made it into a career. I typically invite guests to the podcast based on topics I want to cover — so I plot out subjects and then find guests based on that. But some of my favorite interviews have come from people whose work I have simply stumbled across in this wide, wide world. Every single person has something to teach you and me, if we only take the time to listen. And one of my favorite things about podcasting is that it sets aside purposeful time to ask questions, listen and learn.

I’ve been using some of those learnings this week as I powered through a really busy week at work. I had to set aside intentional time to be in nature and then, once there, really use it — not just as box checking. And I’m in the throes of new-thing-outside-learning right now, too — something I even bothered to start thanks to what I learned from podcast guests about the value of trying new things outside.

You can see photos of those moments on Humans Outside on Facebook and Instagram. And I want to see your photos, too. Share them #humansoutside365.

Until next time, I’ll see you out there.

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