Simple and Easy Ways to ‘Rewild’ Your Life by Going Outside (Micah Mortali)

It can be easy to think of practices like rewilding and mindfulness as being habits of only extra-zen, nature-based people. But if you’re someone who likes to go outside or is building an outdoor habit, they are probably already a part of what you’re doing, at least a little.

So how can you do it more? And if you don’t think you’ve added them, how can you make them happen while balancing a modern life?

In this episode Micah Mortali, rewilding expert and dean of the Kripalu School of Mindful Outdoor Leadership, shares his insights and tips of rewilding, mindfulness and even meditation. Author of the book “Rewilding, Meditations, Practices, and Skills for Awakening in Nature,” Micah’s extra-practical tips make a rewilding habit accessible for any outdoor-lover.

[1:52] Why this recording is a little different

[2:41] Micah Mortali’s favorite outdoor space

[4:41] Amy’s regular moment of mindfulness

[5:16] What Micah thinks about that moment

[6:34] How Micah became someone who likes to go outside

[9:32] The spiritual connection of nature and how it’s weird some religions are confused

[10:55] Other Christian faith traditions and nature

[13:42] What is “rewilding?”

[20:45] How a nature draw plays out for city-dwellers

[23:35] Mindfulness and task-focus in nature

[29:56] The challenge of meditation for focused people

[32:22] How rewilding and mindfulness fit into a daily nature habit

[37:02] What the pandemic taught us about rewilding

[40:27] Simple tips for rewilding and mindfulness in nature

[42:47] Micah’s favorite outdoor moment

Don’t like what’s going on outside? Wait awhile, power through and it will change. That’s just part of the truth about seasons Amy is clinging to — and an important lesson she’s learned — as she deals with a fresh running injury.

How does heading into nature and understanding outdoor seasons help with the rest of our lives? Hear about it in this episode of Amy’s regular Humans Outside Outdoor Diary.

[:45] Good and bad habits

[1:10] The problem with ankles

[1:50] What Amy missed this month

[2:20] Things learned instead

[2:30] Risk is inevitable

[2:52] Get friends like this

[3:35] The important thing about seasons

[4:02] The good and not so good things about fireweed

Depending on your background of using nature and heading outside, you might think of spending time outdoors as something you go do instead of something that’s on the other side of your front door.

And if you do make a habit of going into the nature that’s close to home, you might be tempted to think that the same-old, same-old isn’t as good as shaking it up and going somewhere news and different.

Dr. Kathleen Wolf has made a career of researching human use of nature and its benefits as a research social scientist at the school of environmental and forest sciences at the University of Washington. She joined in Season 3 for an overview of how much time in nature is really useful (spoiler alert, it’s about 20 minutes a day!). And in this episode she talks about the benefits of nearby nature and how to get the most out of it.


[3:54] What Kathy’s been doing since we last spoke

[7:54] What is nearby nature?
[10:31] What people think of as nature and why making generalizations isn’t a good idea

[15:23] What nearby nature factors appeal to people?

[19:44] The role of mindfulness in nearby nature

[22:45] Is there any benefit to doing the same thing in nature over and over?

[25:37] What it’s like to stare at the same tree for 70 minutes

[27:33] What Amy has learned by doing the same thing over and over again

[33:33] How people can create a great nearby nature experience no matter where they are

[41:40] Why nature is like nutrition

It’s hard to ignore the song of the returning light and warming weather — especially after a winter of darkness and cold. You aren’t just drawn to it. it’s like a magnet.

In this Outdoor Diary episode Amy discusses a series of moments that happen over the creeping of spring that let her know that summer really is right around the corner, and the days of winter are in the past.

[:45] How dark was it really?

[:57] How you notice the darkness at all

[1:25] Hint: it’s sneaky

[1:42] The light is the ticket

[2:03] The Day of Blinding Light

[2:33] The warm and sweet day

[3:10] The day when it’s only light

[3:27] “Green Day”

[4:00] Why this matter

Among the lifestyle challenges of living in a city are finding ways to create nature spaces near your home. While many city community green spaces are in the form of parks, everything from their upkeep to ease of access varies widely. And those spaces often aren’t designed with a focus on what the community needs or who lives and plays there, creating a block for use by all.

In Washington, D.C. the organization City Blossoms is working to change that by creating garden spaces focused on youth involvement across the city. With two of their core values focused on diversity and equity, the organization partners with communities to create gardens that don’t just live in the neighborhood, but are centered around its needs.

In this episode, Rafael Woldeab, City Blossom’s executive director, shares his organization’s mission, why it matters and how outdoor-lovers anywhere can use what City Blossoms has learned to connect them with nature right where they are.

[3:54] How Rafael Woldeab became someone who likes to go outside
[5:05] Why the National Arboretum is a good example of nature inequity
[10:19] What is City Blossoms?
[18:31] Should we focus our resources on community gardens or curated garden spaces?
[20:32] Why diversity and inclusion are central to gardening
[26:23] Why do gardens matter?
[33:51] What gardening can teach you about life
[36:52] How anyone can experience the power of gardens
[44:01] Rafael’s favorite outdoor gear
[45:44] Rafael’s favorite outdoor moment

When was the last time you let curiosity be your guide as you headed outside? It can be easy to stuff that sense of wondering down and fall victim to box checking or making it to the destination. Curiosity, as cliche as it sounds, is what lets you enjoy the journey.

In this Outdoor Diary Amy explores the simple way she’s been working to let curiosity drive her decisions outside — and why you might want to do the same.

Some of the good stuff:

[:45] The destruction of a windstorm leads to curiosity

[1:21] What this meant near Amy

[1:50] Getting dirty and into it

[2:26] Adults are bad at this

[2:46] What might happen if you’re fueled by wondering

[3:13] Why Amy is thinking about this

[3:54] Following curiosity to a debris field

Simple. Boring. Tired. You might think of just going for a regular walk as being something only people with nothing better to do make a part of their daily lives.

But what if going for a walk isn’t only an easy way to spend time outside, but also one that’s so varied and beneficial that understanding the practice is a matter of scientific research?

Author Annabel Streets was so startled by how much better she felt when she started going for walks that she researched the science behind what was happening and wrote a book about it. The result, 52 Ways to Walk, details out — you guessed it — 52 different ways to go for a walk and all of the research behind the benefits of each one.

In this episode of Humans Outside, Annabel shares her least and most favorite ways to walk, her walking journey, and why any of it should matter to you.

[2:59] Annabel Street’s favorite outdoor space

[3:36] How Annabel became someone who likes to go outside and also go for walks

[7:07] Why she started researching walking

[8:14] Was it hard to find 52 ways?

[8:52] Why people avoid walking

[9:23] Her favorite new way to walk

[12:19] Amy’s night experience

[16:44] What people always think about walking

[18:43] Her least favorite way to walk

[19:39] Another perfect and underappreciated walking favorite

[24:18] Ways to walk that didn’t make it into the book

[30:38] Want to start walking? Here’s how.

[35:06] Annabel’s favorite outdoor gear

[36:49] Annabel’s favorite outdoor memory

Spending a lot of time outdoors? You might find that you’ve started caring about the environment more than you used to. While Amy was a kid, “environmentalism” was seen by her family as a bad thing. But today she knows loving nature means taking care of it. And so she’s started doing some simple tasks to put those feelings into action.

[:50] What environmentalism was to Amy growing up

[1:58] How she thinks about environmentalism now

[2:14] Why spending time outside makes you care about the environment

[3:00] The selfishness of loving the environment

[3:22] What this has to do with “leave no trace”

[3:45] What it has to do with buying used stuff

[4:00] What it has to do with how you spend your time

No matter where you live you probably regularly see at least one kind of animal outside your window: birds. City or country, birds serve the ecosystem while providing humans with beauty, curiosity and entertainment.

And if you spend any time noticing them, you are already participating in birding. Feeling curious and want to learn more about these feathered friends? That’s where today’s guest, Yamina Nater-Otero, comes in. As a program coordinator for Audubon New York based in New York City, she knows that you don’t need to live somewhere with big forests or nearby mountains to learn about and watch birds. And in her role as secretary for Amplify the Future, she knows you also don’t need to look a certain way or come from any special background to participate. Birding and all of nature is for everyone.

In this episode of Humans Outside Yamina talks to us about how literally anyone can become a birder and the importance of birds in the use of nearby nature.

[3:04] Yamina Nater-Otero’s favorite outdoor space

[4:11] How Yamina became someone who likes to go outside

[5:39] How she got into birding

[7:12] What is her favorite bird and, also, is it possible to have a favorite bird?

[8:09] Amy’s favorite bird

[11:46] How birding was an outdoor gateway

[13:58] Misconceptions about birding

[18:20] What is a birder?

[22:49] Useful bonus items for birding

[24:17] What kind of binoculars to buy if you want some

[26:39] How to create a happy bird space

[29:48] How to get started with birding

[32:07] How birding might be a gateway activity

[35:17] Birding can even make you love this place

[38:10] Yamina’s favorite outdoor gear

[39:24] Yamina’s favorite outdoor moment