How Going Outside Helps You Forgive (Sara Schulting-Kranz)

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Sara Schulting Kranz

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We’ve spent years thinking about and experiencing going outside impacts your life. But we never once realized that getting into nature would help us learn how to forgive. But all of that changed when we found the work of Sara Schulting Kranz. A wilderness guide, a life and leadership coach and a certified Multidimensional Partner Trauma Model therapist, Sara’s book, Walk Through This, guides readers through getting to forgiveness and understanding the freedom it gives by heading outside.

In this episode of Humans Outside Sarah shares her powerful story and insights on how nature and getting outside can bring you to a powerful place of forgiveness.

Some of the good stuff:

[2:11] Saraa Schulting Kranz’s favorite outdoor space

[3:38] How Saraa got where she is today

[10:41] What nature teaches about comfort zones

[14:57] How doing hard things outside helps us forgive

[16:51] The definition of “forgiveness”

[20:27] Why it’s different than forgetting

[22:49] Why nature is a great vehicle for healing

[25:47] The difference between goal and intention

[35:44] The journey of forgiveness

[39:59] How nature fits into that journey

[42:16] Sara’s most essential and favorite outdoor gear

[45:01] Sara’s favorite outdoor moment

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Here’s an edited transcript of our conversation on The Humans Outside Podcast.

Amy Bushatz 0:07

When I sit down to look at how the outdoors changes us, when we build a lifestyle around spending time in nature daily, I thought it’d be a lot of different things that might influence us. I knew about nature therapy, so I thought about how it helps heal trauma by giving you a place to process it. I thought that I might feel or be more creative, more mindful, healthier, that it might help me grow better relationships and so much more. But never once did I ever consider that it would help me forgive. Today’s guest, Sara Schulting-Kranz, is a wilderness guide, a Life and Leadership coach and a certified multi dimensional partner trauma model therapist. In addition to one on one coaching, she leads men and women on healing retreats primarily in the Grand Canyon. She’s an endurance athlete, a TEDx speaker, and most recently, the author of the new book, Walk Through This, which explores how nature helps us learn to forgive through the lens of her own story of trauma and forgiveness. It’s her work in that book that helped me realize this impact nature can have on our lives. Sara, welcome to the Humans Outside Podcast.

Sara Schulting-Kranz 1:57

Well, thank you for having me on. I’m thrilled.

AB 1:59

So we start our podcast episodes imagining ourselves in our guest’s favorite outdoor space. Where are we with you today?

SS 2:11

So the Grand Canyon has always been my space that’s been healing. That’s why I lead retreats there now with men and women through their own healing because the Grand Canyon is so metaphorical of life, when we’re talking nature and humans. You know, you go deep into the canyon, just like we go deep into ourselves when we’re here healing. We sit there, we feel, we process, we connect. And then we hike out an entirely different person who is transformed from the experience. So I would say the Grand Canyon, let’s go there. The stars, watching them shooting shooting stars lying on the silver bridge, that’s my favorite spot at night.

AB 2:49

Love it. I’ve never actually been to the Grand Canyon. It’s one of those places still on the bucket list. So I’m excited.

SS 2:57

Well, let’s go. We’re here.

AB 2:59

We had an opportunity to do a major trip to a national park. And the only time that we could really make it happen was in the beginning of this season in May. Like pre Memorial Day. And, you know, it wasn’t, it wasn’t the perfect time to hike the Grand Canyon, which is what I wanted to do. So we skipped that and went to Yellowstone. But yeah, it was beautiful. Next time, Grand Canyon for Amy. So okay, a lot of your work looks at the impact of nature on forgiveness, but it does that through the lens of your own story. So tell us your story.

SS 3:38

So oh, gosh, I will give you the very quick version of this. That’s how I always start that because telling my story is pretty deep. And there’s a lot there. When I was 17, I was raped by somebody that I knew. And I ended up having a child out of that experience – through that horrible experience. And, you know, my healing began at 17 and I grew up in a very small village in Wisconsin and I, I would go outside and I would sit in the cornfields and I would walk next to the creek and watch the the, you know, the brook, just like will recall it back there, the little water floating by and the things that were happening around me. And that became a big healing space for me. And then fast forward at the age of 40. I found out that my husband of 17 years had been betraying me for most of our marriage with men. So the trauma from 40, it was really interesting because it brought up a lot of what had happened to me at 17. And what is also fascinating is how I healed from that trauma. When I was 17, my mom used to walk me down Main Street of our village and she would say — Hold your head high, people will believe you someday. Because there are a lot of people that didn’t believe me. I tried pressing charges, but apparently there was insufficient quote insufficient evidence which just still blows me away to this day. There was so much trauma that happened around that age on, but really, it was through my mom’s words through the actions of walking through this. And then now at the age of 40, healing from trauma in the same way, I would just go into nature. And that became my safe space. And it was where I was called, I guess you could say, and it’s where I found who I am today. I’m now 47, happier than I’ve ever frickin been. I’ve climbed many, many trails. I just got up the John Muir Trail for 22 days this last summer. Manifested everything from my lit agent on the trail, to my publisher, to a relationship I’m in to I mean, everything down the line. And it truly, you know, nature connects us in a way that you will never ever find when you were sitting in four walls, you just can’t. And so that’s been my existence. And that’s how I ended up with this book. And we’re working on a documentary right now to where we are. It’s a story, it’s also called Walk Through This: A Story of Starting Over, and it’s my life, and how I have transformed from 17, through who I am today and moving forward.

AB 6:15

Yeah. So powerful. Wow. And I just love that visualization of one manifesting and just believing in what you’re doing through connecting with that on the trail, but then to this idea of the expansiveness that you said four walls, right. And then talked about being outside, I had this visualization of the walls falling, falling away, right. So that when you are outside, out of that box, it has room for your mind, and really your person, to expand beyond the constraints of that box. It’s like that’s just a very powerful, powerful visualization to me.

SS 7:01

In my book, we do a lot of visualizations. There’s downloadable visualizations, meditations in my book. And it always goes back to what I learned on the trail. My book is seven steps to forgiveness, but it’s also about the seven steps, the six steps prior to to get your eight, which is really deepening your understanding of self learning from your experiences in life, not allowing them to take over your everyday existence, and really being the person, the human that you choose to be in this world within your lifetime. Because we all have choice. And what happens to us does not define us.

AB 7:40

Yes, and that you can control yourself. And that’s about it.

SS 7:45

Well, it’s true. I always say, you know, what’s fascinating is being on the trail has provided me more life lessons than anything else in this world. We just went to go climb, a special someone quote in my life, and I just went to go climb Mount Baldy yesterday. And we got up halfway, and the winds were just howling. And it was like a moment in time where we both looked at each other, and we went –we got to get off like this isn’t the place to be right now. And it’s not about the destination. And people say this all the time. It’s about the journey. It’s about every step. And I think that we hear that in our head, but we don’t always believe it in our heart. And when you go outside and you truly experience life, living, not just life, but living. That’s where we have, on the trail, that’s where we have our experiences that allow us to step into the human that we choose to be, right. You know, more life lessons on the trail than I ever, ever, ever could have in any other time within, you know, living in society.

AB 8:56

Yeah, it’s being faced with something hard that is not anything like what you’d be faced with inside or in your regular life or so it seems in that moment, right. So I’m a great example. I just, you know, we were on vacation. I had the opportunity to go to a little cliff jumping into the ocean, huh, not really my style. Yeah, but I was like — okay, like, I don’t really enjoy jumping off stuff. It’s just not my favorite thing. Okay, but gonna go do it now, right because of that. And while you could say like, I’m probably never going to encounter an actual physical cliff in my house that I need to jump off of, I am going to encounter “cliffs” so called in my work that are scary. And you have to make that decision that despite the fact that you’re standing on top of this thing, telling yourself you really do want to jump off of it and you know, it’ll be fine because you just watched other people. My knees were literally shaking. Like they’re like, I’m looking at my knees and they’re shaking. And it’s just a physical reaction, right. But you have to say — I don’t care about that and I’m going to jump anyway. And that’s not something I would be – like that actual physical circumstance is not in my house. But there sure are circumstances like that. And I now know, and have a hold on that analogy, that I can implement that in my work life and in my family life, that even when your knees are physically shaking, you can still do this hard thing. And it is enjoyable in its own way.

SS 10:41

Well, so fascinating that you bring this up, because, yeah, people ask me all the time, because I’m, you know, like, I paddle for miles off into the ocean. And you know, I paddle at night, I love paddling at night, I love doing things at night. Because to me, that’s where we remind ourselves that it’s the same during the day, it’s just a little different, right? Like, you’re just right, you’re just you’re just maneuvering through it a little differently. But what’s fascinating to me is when you’re talking about that, it’s just living in our comfort zone. So many times we live with what we think, we live in our comfort zone, but there’s a lot of uncomfort there, but we’ve become so accustomed to living with what is uncomfortable actually in our life. If it’s toxic relationships, if it’s jobs that we don’t like, if it’s whatever it is, like, you become comfortable with that, you know, and there’s a lot of – I could go way into this trauma bonding the whole nine yards. That said, the one thing that I have learned more than anything, when I’ve been outside is that when we allow ourselves to feel when we are aware, when we listen to if it is ourselves, if it is the silence around us, if it is the people we pass in our life who have stories that are similar to ours that we can learn from or share, whatever it is. When we can broaden our comfort zone, that is actually where we begin to live. Right, which is, we’re not here to just experience life. We’re here to live. And so that is where we can also see things a little differently, have more clarity, and jump off the damn cliff. Yeah, because truthfully, the other thing is, we’re only born with two fears in our life. Did you know that? The fear of falling and the fear of loud noises. Everything else in this world is created by well, society. So to me, and I always say like, this is not this is the created world, like what we live in, when we’re in four walls. This is the creative world I prefer to live out in the real world, which is like, you know, outside of the four walls, like get our butts outside and really experience the odd wonder of life, of living.

AB 12:49

After I jumped I decided that I probably would benefit quite hugely by doing it again. So what was interesting about that time is that so despite having only two fears when you’re born, I have a third fear, which is spiders, I am just really afraid of spiders. I don’t love falling, I’m okay, but I am afraid of spiders. So I go to get out and on the rocks, are these black crabs, okay, that are like completely blended into the rock. And I sat there, and I look and I think one I already climbed up this cliff, once without even seeing these crabs, that’s scary. And to me, they kind of look like sea spiders. So I decided in that moment that these are the spiders of the sea, and that I am mostly afraid of them. And I have this moment where I’m like — okay, so I can not do this because I can let a second totally unrelated to the thing that I’m trying to overcome right now keep me from getting up off this rock. Or I can remember that I already did this once without getting, you know, nailed by a sea spider. And get up on the cliff, Amy. And I sat there for a second. They sort of hesitated and I thought about it. And I jumped off the cliff again. But it was interesting to me thinking about later that that was the same challenge that I had just overcome, and yet also different the second time that it presented a new type of layer. And I felt like that was saying that was reminding me that in my work life or my personal life, even if you get used to jumping off the cliff a little bit, it’s still going to have a new layer of problems. Being outside is teaching me to look at those things, too. Just so you know, just so many interesting, interesting layers, all of them unrelated to forgiveness right now.

SS 14:57

Or is it? Like it actually believe it or not, all of it is related to forgiveness, that’s what’s so fascinating. And even jumping off the cliff is related to forgiveness, because how many people choose to stand on the cliff and go — I’m not gonna do that, for whatever reason, right. And in reality, it’s by jumping off the cliff and doing the things that we have never done before, or maybe are going to do it a little differently, or see things a little differently, that allows us to actually have the peace and the freedom in our life that we want. But I truly believe that all of life, because the underlying theme of forgiveness is love. Right? Like, that’s why we forgive, we go back to that self love, that self worthiness. Everything starts with self and to create the world of which, you know, we want to live in and every day in our daily life, like, we don’t want to hold on to the toxicity, you didn’t want to hold on to the fear. It’s like — I’m going to jump, and I’m going to let go of this so that I now can experience something that I wasn’t experiencing five seconds earlier before I jumped, right? And that’s the thing with forgiveness, people are afraid people get very, very afraid of forgiveness. And I’m going to tell you something, once you step into that space, there is nothing like it.

AB 16:16

So define forgiveness for us. Because I think that that, you know, you and I talked before about how much I really, truly enjoyed your books so much, so much more actually than I thought I would. But I mean, you know, like, forgiveness. I think that people misunderstand what we’re talking about with forgiveness, just on day one. And I’m sure you have seen that in your work. So define forgiveness for us.

SS 16:51

Well, here’s what’s funny, I never set out to like, do this whole forgiveness thing, by the way. Never. When I was asked to do the TED Talk, the whole forgiveness piece of my life, really came full circle. This is the awareness and the listening, when I was asked to do a TED talk, and I thought the TED Talk would be about like nature healing, or all the things or trauma. And then we kept circling back to why am I healing differently than so many, and quite frankly, more quickly than so many other people from deep, deep PTSD? You know, like, I mean, I had fear of, I actually had a moment of thinking — Okay, well, if I just slammed my car into the wall, I can let all of this go, I have three sons. So obviously, that was, you know, always in the back of my mind as well. But it always when I was sitting there thinking about the topic of my TED Talk, it came back to forgiveness. And here’s how this definition came into play. The person who was producing the documentary asked me how I define forgiveness. And I said to her — I define forgiveness as releasing, letting go of the pain that’s been inflicted on me right, handing it back, always with love, always doing everything in this world with love. And when we looked up the definition of forgiveness, and this is actually the definition of forgiveness in the dictionary, I’ve been reading this actually straight from my book — to cease to feel resentment against the offender, pardon or to forgive one’s enemies, to grant forgiveness, to learn to forgive and forget. And that forget piece is the piece that I was like — What the heck? And here’s why this is so big, because so many of us were taught, just forget about it, let it go, brush it under the rug. Why do we have to revisit this? What is this about? Like, why do you keep bringing this up. But here’s the thing, every single thing in your lifetime that has happened to you that has been difficult also deserves to be honored. Because when we allow ourselves to honor the difficulties, we can step out of it from a different space, see it from a new clarity, through a new lens. And that’s actually where the healing begins. Right. And so this is how I define forgive. I define forgive as — to acknowledge an offense and the consequences of that offense as truth, to choose to let go of negative feelings that we’re choosing, and to cease to harbor animosity toward the offender. So it’s always by choice from self, it always comes from within self. Right? And so, by allowing myself to go through this process of releasing and handing back the pain, when I’ve done the work where I’m like — Okay, this is no longer serving me. I’ve learned from it, I’m taking responsibility for what part I can. Forgiveness for self always starts with self right. Forgiveness always starts with forgiveness for self, self forgiveness, and then forgiveness for others, and then forgiveness for the world. So when I can sit with that and honor my experiences, my difficulties, and I always did this out in nature, always, never within four walls, when I could do that, and connect more deeply about who with who I am. That’s when I could step into the space of forgiveness and say — You know what, I am ready to let go. And I am ready to move on. And I’m ready to walk through all of it. And that’s where the transformation happens.

AB 20:11

Yeah, that’s so powerful. Because I really think that the thing that hangs so many people up is the forgetting thing. You know, like you read, forget, and I thought in my brain — hell no, like, Hell no,

SS 20:22

I’m not gonna forget that all this happens to me.

AB 20:25

Yeah. Why would I do that?

SS 20:27

Right? Like, I’m not going to pardon you and say, Oh, yeah, what you did is okay. This is everything that I just want to also state that’s very, very fascinating. By forgetting anything, you’re also not allowing the other person to learn from what they did. So I don’t want to forget, there’s twofold number one, because I want to honor my experience, but also the people, person, people, that is, that have hurt me most in my lifetime. I want them to learn from what they’ve done. I want them to actually go through their own forgiveness process of forgiveness for self, and to be able to say I’m sorry. And to be able to forgive the world for whatever allowed them to get to that space as well. Right. And so by forgetting anything, it’s diminishing, actually in my eyes, is almost demoralizing, because we need as a society to also do better and you cannot do better by saying — forget that that happened.

AB 21:27

Right? Right, right.

Okay, really getting into the nuts and bolts of how nature impacts this. Forgiving is not the first step right? There’s a lot of things before that. So let’s talk for a second about why nature is important. And how it is important to revealing how we handle conflict, boundaries, pain, and then finally forgiveness, because understanding all of those things is key to the last thing.

SS 22:49

Right? Right. So the reason that so much of my healing happened in nature is because, you know, PTSD is real, trauma brain is real. We all experience it, the rumination of our life experiences, it’s real. I know it myself. And, and the reason that nature worked so well is because when I could get outside, the frontal lobe of my brain would slow, that’s where we have the ruminating, that’s where we have the task mastering, that’s where we have the checklist, and that’s where we you know, right now, that’s, that’s where I’m working from, quote working from. But when we are out in nature, the back part of our brain, which is the cerebellum, that’s what’s allowed to rise. And that’s actually where we start to have those clarity moments. That’s where we can experience wonder. And there was a study by UC Berkeley and on wonder actually reduces PTSD symptoms by I believe, 29% for people that are out in nature for a week, and so when we can get to that state, in our mind we are in – this is where I do a lot of the work to with my clients is allowing your mind to slow so that we can drop into our heart, because our heart is actually the piece that we want to heal. Right? Yes, we have the brain as well. But we really want to drop back into the heart space, which is the connection for self. When’s the last time that anybody has put their hands over their beating heart and actually gone — Wow, that is my heartbeat. That heart is mine. It’s nobody else’s. And that is my heartbeat that keeps me alive each and every day. And so when we can connect with that inner self and really truly understand and deepen the connection and the relationship with self, that is where we can also then finally say — Okay, I’m ready to let go of XYZ I’m ready to forgive this person.

AB 24:50

When you talk about frontal lobe versus the cerebellum, one of the things I feel like you’re describing is the difference between goal and intention. Um, talk to us about, is that an accurate understanding because I’m very goal oriented, like I have a little checklist book here. And we just came off of a vacation. And I realized that not one time during said vacation did I feel the need to create a daily list, which I do every single day, except for those days, right? And I’m really like, kind of proud of the fact that I have this book full of lists. Okay. Weirdly, right. But I did not even think about it. Instead, I thought about what I was going to do that day and what I was going to experience and I wonder if that’s sort of a difference between goal and intention, clear that up for us? Yeah. And how is it different?

SS 25:47

I guess you could actually say that, I’ve never really thought about it in that way. But sure. I mean, you can totally say that. And so I used to be a very goal oriented person to I used to, like have the list and the checkoff and the things. And, you know, what’s funny is that this is where I’m like — thank you for all of the crap that I’ve lived through. Happiness isn’t felt, true peace and happiness are not felt by simply checking off the boxes. True peace and happiness is felt by living in the moment. Right, and being with the one that you love, which if it’s yourself, or if it’s with another person, or wherever it is, right. And not only like, within the connection of other people, but the connection of space, the connection of time, the connection of all of it truly like all of it. And, and so, you know, the living intentionally each and every day, which is also what I do choose to do. And this is a part of the practice of living in this way and living with forgiveness. And that is allowing yourself to actually be more present in the moment. And understanding that, you know, be self compassionate towards yourself. You’re, you’re a freakin human being, you’re not a human doing. Right and so alone, it’s true, right?

AB 27:09

So cheesy, but so real.

SS 27:11

So true. People used to say that to me, too. And I’m like — What? And it’s so true. This is one of the questions that I always asked myself. When I’m 108 years old – I want to live to 108. What is my 108 year old self gonna say about how I’m living right now, in this moment? Is she going to be proud of me? Because — Ooh, I checked off the box, or is she gonna be proud of me because I’m actually sitting in the moment and allowing it to unfold?

AB 27:41

Yeah, my 108 year old self is gonna have stacks of checklist books. Okay, real confession, guys. I make myself throw out the books of checklists, because I used to keep them. And I thought — this is insane.

SS 28:00

Well, do you know what’s very fascinating about that? So I, obviously, like I said, I used to be that way. I used to have all of that. For me, I look back and I’m like, what was the reasoning behind it? You know, some of it might be your human design and all of that stuff, too. And I get it, I fully understand. For me, it was always a safety mechanism. The more that I checked off, the safer, safer I felt within their own existence, which I now look back and I’m thinking — Oh, that was a complete trauma response. Yeah, for me, and it truly was because I’ve been a mom since 17. I chose to raise my son, and two, you know, and then I got married and I had two more boys. And so I’m a mom of three and single mom of three now and that’s that for me that checkoff was like — okay, success, success. That’s, that was my way of also staying safe.

AB 28:50

Yeah, I will say, so I sort of lost the habit for a while and then picked it back up again last September, and I will say I forget less stuff. So there is like an actual practice. Right? But at the same time, I’m sure that I, if I look too closely at the checklist, situation in my life, man, we’re getting, you’re really diving in deep here for me, and I feel a little raw right now.

SS 29:18

I will say that I’ve got a list too, like people always laugh at me, because I still have my paper calendar. I’m so old school. I mean, it’s in my phone, too. But there is something about, you know, having the list and making sure that you’re getting it all done. Again, now, that truthfully, is also because when you’ve experienced trauma brain, which I have, you lose some of your memory. And so for those people that don’t know this, like trauma brain is a true thing. And so you do start to lose some of your memory. And so you it’s this, rebuilding of that right and going and being able to bring those pieces back that have literally gone offline. So I get it.

AB 29:59

I finally got it. Right enough about my list. Crazy list Amy. I want to talk more about nature. Okay, because that’s really why we’re here. Although apparently we’re also exposing my weird habits. What you do are retreats. So when you’re in a retreat, you are not just passing nature by, you’re experiencing it. So talk to us about why that’s important about the difference between looking at nature and experiencing nature, and why that difference is important.

SS 30:39

So I had somebody say to me recently, they’re like — do you realize that you look at a bird flying over your head the same as you do a whale? Because most people, it’s like — oh, it’s just another bird. When I lead my retreats, and I do these very intentionally, because I don’t want people to be like — Okay, I’m gonna go through the Grand Canyon and just check it off – done. I saw the Grand Canyon! I want them to experience it in every way, mind, heart, spirit, soul, body, like everything. So we do everything from meditating in nature, we sometimes do breath work in nature. It does get deep through like coaching and stuff as well. But really, that unfolds, I always say I facilitate these in a way that is for the people that show up for them. It’s always beautiful. I mean, I’m an experiential learner. And also, I healed through experiences. And so I want this to be a major, major, major, major foundation to their own healing. So we do coaching prior to, and then we also do coaching afterwards. And the reason why is because it’s not simply about the retreat itself, even though, yes, we spend two nights at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, and we hike and we adventure, we connect, I also want it to be about this journey into self, right. And so they’re prepared, and I talk a lot about really being aware, be aware of the messages, be aware of the clouds that you know, float over your head, be aware of the birds and what type of bird it is. Because if you go back into any Native American culture or anything like that, you know, there, there’s messages that are given to you every day. And those messages are what we can actually learn, listen to and learn from. So it’s not simply about — Yeah, just let’s go hike. It’s about really experiencing all of what is around us. And, you know, when’s the last time that you’ve – and this is why I said through this episode, let’s go to the bottom of the Grand Canyon – laid on the Silver Bridge and watch the stars that shoot through the sky. You know, when’s the last time that you’ve done that? When’s the last time that we’ve actually watched clouds and allowed them to be like, be wondrous with you? Right. And so it’s really about slowing down. And allowing our again, our frontal lobe to take a rest, their cerebellum to rise, and be in wonder, and just to really, you know, connect.

AB 33:20

I think there are two steps to building and an outdoor habit, sort of the core of what we’re doing here, right, there’s building the outdoor habit, getting outside for that 20 minutes, and making that a part of your, you know, a life or however long you’re choosing to get outside. The second thing is doing it intentionally, right? Making sure that it doesn’t become just box checking, once you have built the habit for a while it’s going to be because that’s what that habit building is, right. It’s learning to do something and making sure you do it every day. But then the danger for someone like me, who’s now been doing this for, you know, 1300 days in a row is that it’s just something I do every day. It’s not something that I experience. And so I have to constantly encourage myself to stay on my toes. And you know, am I going to hit that mark every day? No, there’s going to be some days that I just go out there and check the box. I am proud to say, however, that it’s not a literal box. It is never on my actual to do list. It’s just something I do every day. But I have to be – and we do talk about this here a lot – intentional with how I’m doing it. I have to try to be in that moment. Because now that it’s a habit, it slides into not being in the moment ever. And that’s a constant thing.

SS 34:38

So it becomes, I would say, and this is kind of how I look at forgiveness as well. It’s not a one and done. Right, right. And so it’s a practice. And so I’m the same way. I always build it into my day, and I build it into my year. So if you want to talk about a goal, I guess that is a goal. But I’m not really goal oriented kind of person. I’m more of an intentional living kind of person, though I do have goals, but not like, you know, I don’t live by the goal in the way that so many people do. But I build it into my life, you have to build it into your life; 1,000% you have to build it into your life. So, you know, if it was 22 days on the John Muir Trail this last summer, or this year, we’re gonna hit this High Sierra trail again for eight days, do it a little differently than I did it three years ago. And it’s something that needs to also be brought in. Yes, with intention. And also, like, if I can tell anybody anything frickin create it, hashtag create it. Like, it’s not it really, truly people overthink it. It’s like — Well, what about the gear? What about? You know, what about the spiders? What about, you know, whatever it is? I mean, what about the snakes? I’m like — Okay, wait, timeout. What’s the flip side about that? What about the water? What about the experience? What about the beauty? What about the laughter? What about the fun, right? Like, all the other crap, I’m just gonna say, well, it will fall into line the way that it’s meant to. I’m not saying to dangerously, I’m just also saying — Don’t think so much about it. Just be led by your heart. That’s it.

AB 36:24

So let’s talk about about forgiveness, we’ve already sort of established that there’s a lot of intention that goes into it, you’ve said that it’s a continuous process, we’ve defined what it is, give us some actionable steps towards using nature to come to that, to that end journey spot that is then a continuous journey spot?

SS 36:44

Yeah, I do it every day. I’ve had to do it every day. Yeah. So you know, and that’s why I wrote the book that way that I did, there’s six steps to get you there. There is, you know, understanding self worth and self love more deeply, which is huge, especially for people that have been betrayed or anything like that, who’ve been traumatized. We have to rebuild that self worthiness and that self love, learning how to set boundaries, it’s understanding your values, understanding who you are the foundation of who you are. And it’s, you know, what do you do when it gets hard. That’s why I put a chapter in there, “What Do You Do When it Gets Hard,” allowing yourself to go back to the affirmations and saying — you know, I am worthy, I am fiercely self compassionate, I am loved, so simple. And so there’s the six steps. And the reason that I built it in through nature is because when we it’s kind of like, if you’re going to talk about self worthiness, when you’re sitting on a an I mean, no disrespect, whatever, whatsoever, the sitting on a couch, versus understanding self worthiness, when you are, you know, lying on the grass, underneath the clouds, you know, watching the leaves fall down next to you. And understanding that that’s like true worthiness, right, you’re worthy of the breath, you are worthy of the when, you are worthy of your senses, all of them. And it’s very different. And so, when that’s why I created the book the way that I did was the six steps. And then when you get into forgiveness, you’ve already built that foundation. So it’s not just like — Okay, I’m gonna go forgive now. Understanding yourself so deeply, you’ve built the foundation of self. So then when you do choose to step into forgiveness, you’re ready to do it. Right. And I will say that, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get hurt again, or that you’re not going to still feel the pain from the experience that you are also, you know, practicing to forgive with, I still feel the pain from my marriage, my failed marriage, I still feel the pain from the sexual assault when I was 17. I’m still working every single day on that forgiveness piece. Because that’s that deepening of self. That’s more and more that understanding of self even deeper than what you thought you were at even a few days ago. That’s the practice piece, though. It doesn’t mean also that you negate, like, say that this is the thing about forgiveness. It’s like — Oh, I thought I forgave that person. And now I’m pissed off again. Well, if not, you’re not negating all the work that you’ve done. Right? That’s why I say — “I forgive you” versus “I am choosing to continue to forgive you.”

AB 39:25

So we’ve talked about how nature is important to getting through to that point that you can do that, understanding your worthiness, understanding your place in the world, understanding how you can conquer big things, understanding what that feels like. Why the moment that you say — I am choosing to do this — is it is nature and being in nature, an important part of that, or is it really just the whole journey?

SS 39:59

You know, so It’s the big old picture. But then it’s the moment. Right? It’s the big old picture. All the work that you’ve done. Well, I hate calling it work because it to me, it’s like also play like I truly believe in, you know, having fun with your healing as well, as crazy as some people think that is, but I truly do believe in that. But it’s all of that work that then takes you to that moment of Ah! Where, you know, you’re standing. I always with my clients, I explained to them., or me, it was standing on a rock. It’s actually my Facebook picture, my personal page, which I have not changed since then, I was standing on a rock looking out in Sequoia National Park, somebody took the picture. They had no idea what was going on with me. But I literally had, I just stood there and all of a sudden, I felt this like, Whoa, this this like, overwhelming feeling sensation. And I looked up and I saw two birds that floated overhead. They were just, you know, flying right over me. And then they split up and I was like — Okay, that’s it. That’s, that’s my moment. And it for me, totally dropped into my heart and had this realization of — Okay, I’m going to be fine, divorcing, I’m going to be fine living on my own, I’m gonna eat, I’m ready to do this. I’m ready to step into this space. And I don’t want to be in my pain anymore. I want to let go of that. And so it’s all of the moments that I had prior to that, that then led me to that one. On the rock moment of — Okay, I’m ready. I’m ready to step out of where I’m at right now.

AB 41:32

So good. Okay, we’ve come to the end, I’m sorry to report. So we can do leftover stuff. All right, you and I chatted before we record that you’ve don’t, and you mentioned while we were on here, that you don’t often think about the stuff that you use, you know, your gear and that kind of thing. But nonetheless, we like to know, that kind of thing, because maybe somebody else wants to check it out. You know, see if it can you know, be the gateway to making their experience better or whatever. Up here in Alaska, we know that the right jacket saves lives quite well. Yeah. So there you go. Okay. So talk to us about your favorite and most essential outdoor gear. What do you love?

SS 42:16

Oh, gosh, there’s literally so many things. There’s so many. When I was on the John Muir Trail, I will say that my favorite gear, which is going to sound so crazy, but I use a ULA backpack. Okay, I love them. And they come with this is gonna sound so crazy, but like, Just trust me on this. They come with straps, the thumb straps. And this sounds so simple. I’m all about the simplicity. I cannot hike without those. I need to recreate them when I’ve lost one. Couldn’t do it. Now understand that that’s pure like for me, that’s just me allowing myself to be in the flow when I’m hiking it just right just like them. And the other thing that was my Jetboil. Girlfriend, I need a Jetboil wherever I go. Like I cannot not have my Jetboil – coffee in the morning soup at night period.

AB 43:16

Yeah. Okay. If you are listening to this and have no idea what a Jetboil is, it’s like this cylinder stove that screws on to a little tiny fuel source. That’s pretty I mean, it’s pretty lightweight. And it’s a little scary moment where you light it — like is my face to close what’s about to happen here? Okay. And then it boils whatever’s in it very, very quickly. And it is life and I love mine too. And we take it skiing because I must have coffee at the back of my car so

SS 43:51

And you know what I do a lot now is I hike summits during the night. And then I go and I sit on top of the summit. And the other reason I love my Jetboil is because I love watching the sunrise and drinking coffee. I tried to do it yesterday, but the winds were just too strong.

AB 44:09

Yeah, you have to have like a wind situation. We have a podcast episode with a coffee company co owner talking to us about the best way to make coffee out, so that.

SS 44:22

The best. I had a girl who showed up for one of my retreats one time. Freakin love her. She’s phenomenal. She brought her grinder and she brought everything. So we stopped and we would stop and we would meditate. She’s like — Can I make some coffee?I’m like — Girl! Absolutely. So she would grind her coffee and we were like your GCing and the GC? Get it?

AB 44:42

Yeah. Trail jokes. Okay. Walk us out of here, giving us a picture in a moment to sit with you in your favorite outdoor moment. If you close your eyes, where are you? What are you doing?

SS 45:01

So I would say I have so many I have so many. The one would be actually, when I had my big aha moment, but I’m kind of past that now. It was important, but now I’m like — Okay, done. So I will give you this. Okay? So every trip that I do every year and I want to share this with everybody, because it’s pretty important. Before I go out into nature, I set my intention, what is my intention for being out here? What am I healing from? What am I working through? What am I looking at? Whatever it is. Three years ago, I wanted the High Sierra trail. And I did that to manifest and really deepen my, I wanted to get my lead agent. So I got my, by the end of the year, I got my lead agent on December 31 of that year. The next year, I did the High Sierra loop. And my intention was to get my publisher. Awesome. This last year, I went on the John Muir Trail, and I did get my publisher. Obviously, this last year, I went on it thinking that it was about pushing this book into the world. And on day one of that trip, and this is where I talked about the listening and the awareness, I watched two different couples get engaged on the trail, one was at the top of Nevada Falls, and one was at the top of Clouds Rest. I’ve never seen people get engaged outside. Never, I’d never in all the years, all the moments I’ve had on the trail. I’ve never witnessed somebody get engaged. And that was my day of realizing I sat on the Clouds Rest that night, pulled out my phone, I was alone on Clouds Rest under the stars. And I had a conversation with self. It’s actually day one of my podcast, I did a two part podcast on my John Muir trail. And that was day one and I sat up there giving my reflections of — Okay, I thought I was here for one thing, and I get it. This is my deepening of self love and understanding my worthiness and really wanting to step into a relationship and a partnership with another human being, which now I am and there’s a whole story behind that. Manifesting on the trail works. That’s all I’m gonna say. I’ll get more public with that in the future. But I’ll tell you something, if a book needs to get written, this is my this is my next one. Because it’s freaking powerful. And that was it, sitting on top of Clouds Rest that night under the stars watching them and I’m just like — Okay, I get it. I’m listening. I hear you. And it was the most peaceful, inner self experience that I’ve had in a very long time.

AB 47:30

Love it. Sarah, thank you so much for being on the Humans Outside Podcast today. If people want to read your book, buy your book, check out your work, we’ve got links in the show notes to all of those things. So that they can do that. And I just really appreciate you. Thank you.

SS 47:46

Thank you. I appreciate you too. This has been fun.

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