Why I Know Mother Nature is the Answer...
It’s not a question in my mind that I love the Outdoors. It is also not a question in my that I have Anxiety— at times better managed than others. Now, it’s not a doubt in my mind that one can help the other. There is not doubt in my mind the role that Mother Nature and the Outdoors play in mental and physical healing
In the past two years. I have dove deeper and deeper into the outdoor world and Mother Nature and it has been nothing short of life changing. This is partially due to Chris for bringing me back to rock climbing, taking me on my first camping trip and building our badass van, Betty. While I thank him and I think that my outdoor adventuring is largely in part due to a supportive, experienced, patient adventure partner, I do also think I would have stumbled into on my own— just maybe a little slower.
Well I have always felt at peace outdoors. I grew up a water rat, mermaid, beach babe on the shores of Long Island. I got my boating license before my driver’s license. I had to be dragged out of the ocean/pool/bay at the end of each day and eagerly jumped back in first thing in the morning. I learned to waterski and take care of the ocean as a little babe. In fact, I can’t remember a summer where I didn’t spend my weekends on the north or south shore of Long Island with family and friends a like.
I was also very lucky to be thrown on skis at a very young age— about 3 years old. I don’t remember learning how to ski but I also don’t remember never being able to ski. As far as my memory goes back, hopping on skis and raising down hills came as natural as walking down the street, if not more natural for a klutzy lady like me.
And for most of my teenage and adult years, the ocean was my oasis and the ski resorts were my outdoor adventure of choice for the winter. I enjoyed each thoroughly and always felt better after some time at either locale but I didn’t really realize the effect it was having on my for what it was.
The Nature Effect.
As I entered graduate school, hiking became trendier. Instagram became a thing and you could #instastalk everyone from beach adventures, to hikers and you could sit in your living room and daydream about all the places you wanted to visit. After spending time in Australia and Ireland, I desperately wanted to travel more. I Wanted to experience more of the world and the glorious views. Little did I know that the pull would intensify and I would crave sunsets, mountains, salt water more than ever. As my life became more stressful, the pull became stronger.
And then I met Chris, he was adventurous, outdoorsy and handsome. He had all this outdoor knowledge but he didn’t make my feel dumb about it. Our second date was rock climbing and buffalo chicken at Devlins. If you know me, you know that an active gym date followed by buffalo chicken (and at a great restuarant) are one thousand and ten percent the way to my heart. I was in deep and I didn’t even know it.
We started consistently rock climbing together as dates and I was in heaven. Getting my workout in and bonding with a new guy, never had I been able to share my love of fitness and movement with a significant other before (Chris even came to my yoga classes). I was intrigued by outdoor rock climbing and even more by hiking. Our first summer we hiked Mount Washington and camped — a first for me!
I thought Chris was trying to kill me on Mount Washington. I swear I thought he was either trying to kill me or he was testing how I outdoorsy I really was because we RACED up that mountain. (I’ve come to learn neither were true— he’s just a damn billy goat and takes mountains in stride.). I was dying on the way up and then we stopped at the Hut in the Clouds and I turned around and it was all SO worth it.
I think right then I was hooked.
Hook, Line. Sinker. Mother Nature I’m in.
Over the years, Chris and I explored more and more together. We built a van to traveled across the country to ski and explore. With each trip, I grew more in love with the outdoors. With each trip, I change a little. For the better I like to think.
On top of that, I watched his garden grow with love, care and patience. I started helping harvest the garden and planting. I marveled at the tomatoes and eggplants and fresh lettuce. I learned how much tastier garden veggies were from store bought veggies. My palate expanded and once again I had Mother Nature to thank.
At the same time, I was learning more about health and wellness— for myself and my patients/clients. I was learning about all the chemicals in our body products/makeup/ cleaning products and I was horrified. I started detoxing everything I owned and was introduced to essential oils. From there, I continued to learn more about food, meditation, fresh air, essential oils and yoga. All of it, seemed tied to the earth. To Mama Nature.
At the center of my life, was Mother Nature. All she was giving me and all I could give back to her. It was undeniable how much I had gained from the earth in such a short time. And while I Didn’t acknowledge, I knew deep down that my health, wealth and happiness would be forever tied to Mother Nature.
But on the flip side, life became more stressful. Grad school was ramping up and that last year was absolutely. SOUL sucking. I slowly started losing my passion for the field I spent SO many years working towards. It was devastating and frustrating. Looking back on it, I know it had a lot to do with my mindset and my inability to see the end in sight. It had a lot to do with fear (a whole other post coming your way). And a lot to do with lack of confidence. But at the time, all I know was it was devastating.
As graduate school became harder, I wanted to be there less and I wanted to be outdoors more. Chris and I took two big trips in my last year of graduate school and they were amazing and then would inevitably end. Then I would get the Sunday Scaries and dread going back to graduate school all over again.
I assumed that when I graduate things would be easier.
Shocking News: They weren’t.
Studying for the boards sucked. I felt like I was learning things just for the sake of being able to regurgitate them on test day, to never remember again. I felt like I was learning nothing useful. I learned muscle origins and numbers and laws but I Didn’t learn how to talk to a patient, or what to do when I patient started crying or how to motivate patients or even how to get a patient to follow their darn Home Exercise Program. It was all facts and numbers and rules. Honestly, it was bullshit.
Before starting my first Big Girl Job, Chris and I took one last cross country trip. A month in Betty, ski bumming through the west coast. We drove to Washington and Oregon, we met friends in Idaho and we met family in Colorado. We ate well, drank well and skied well. By the end we were tired and stinky but we were happy. We made our way across the US (running away from a massive storm) a couple of days early but happy with our trip.
I knew I would be sidelined from big trips and massive adventures and would be regulated to a weekend warrior. But I figured, I would have SO much more time on my hands.
Once again, Jokes on me.
New jobs are stressful and time consuming. More mentally time consuming, trying to be on your A game, impress the boss and pay off student loans. I kept on some private clients and kept teaching yoga/personal training, all while working 40 (inevitably more because ya PT notes). Chris was equally as busy with work and outdoor adventures fell to the wayside.
At the same time, my health kind of fell apart. That whole story can be found here.
I was exhausted and stressed. I never felt like I got enough sleep and I was felt emotionally and mentally drained. I was uninspired, unmotivated and unhappy. On top of that, I experienced the worst bloating I have ever had. Anytime I eat, I felt uncomfortable in my body and ready to explode. Some days were worse than other. Being someone who loved food, I was torn. I loved food but everything I ate seemed to hate me. I would burp constantly after eating (not only gross but uncomfortable) and would became sluggish and just not feel GOOD. The best way I could explain it was I NEVER felt good. Who doesn’t want to feel good?
But then the weather got nicer and we spent more time outdoors. We visited my parents on the beach, I took a day or two of PTO. I felt better on the weekends but far from good. I dreaded my 10 hour Mondays and I felt uncomfortable due to a coworker relationship.
And then we took a weekend in the Mountains and I felt AMAZING. I was inspired. I felt creative. All these ideas burst to the surface and I word vomited at Chris during our 8 mile hike. I Wanted to help people and I felt capable again.
And my body, oh my body felt good too. It was the best I had felt in months, I remember getting home the next day and having some time to lounge on the couch and al l I could think is “wow I hope I keep feeling this good.”
But again, it didn’t last.
Now let’s back track a bit. I have always been a dreamer and a planner and a doer. Sometimes my dreamer wins over my doer and sometimes the planner falls asleep at the well. But, I’ve always had big dreams and a big drive for success.
On top of that, I figured out a long time ago that I always got my best ideas or “biggest downloads" when I was moving my body and exercising. Hence, my fitness has always been a passion of mine. I exercised to feel GOOD and it worked. When I exercised, I felt less anxious, more confident and more capable.
As time in the outdoors went on, I started experiencing the same feelings after spending time unplugged in Mama Nature. It didn’t matter beach vs mountains vs lake vs prairie. When I spent significant time outdoors, I was happier, more inspired, more creative and I received the BEST and biggest downloads. So much so that Chris asked me to start recording my ideas down so I would stop compiling about forgetting them.
And forget them I did. Back to Boston, back to the rise and grind lifestyle. Back to the do more, be more, see more (patients). And shwooop- all those brilliant ideas- right out the other Side of my head. I would have a million and a half things to share with YOU and they would be gone as soon as I tried to sit down and put pen to paper.
But that weekend this summer, That solidified that not only my mind and brain felt better after time outdoors but so did my BODY. I felt the physical relaxation, the deeper sleep and the decreased bloating. I didn’t change my eating but I felt better. Honestly, didn’t think too too much of it but I enjoyed it and I was grateful for it.
Over the next few weeks, there were ups and downs in my body— physically and mentally.
And then Chris found out he was going on tour for two 4-5 weeks. Oh and he was leaving in a week. Say whaaaat?
Equally amazing and stressful at the same time.
I was proud of him but restless in my own life and ready for an equally as amazing adventure. Dare I say, I was jealous. (The truth hurts..)
Around this time, I stumbled upon Backtcountry Yoga teacher Training. A YTT that would incorporate two of my loves yoga and the outdoors. I was intrigued and it gave me something to look forward to while Chris was away.
The recommended reading list came and being the book nerd I am, I ordered them all.
I first picked up The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. And never has a book been so divinely placed in my life.
I read it with a fuck yeah every other page and a THAT MAKES SO MUCH SENSE and a THIS IS SO EXCITING. I would read every other paragraph to Chris and say things like “SEE, don’t you agree.!?!” Or “how interesting is this babe, don’t you love this babe.”. Yeah I was that person.
So yeah, I highly recommend the book.
And for me, it solidified everything I felt deep down inside me. It justified and confirmed everything I already believed. And with COLD HARD FACTS. #sciencewin
The book goes through outdoor research across the world and examines not only how Mother Nature has a positive impact on our bodies and minds but WHY Mother Nature has such a positive effect. It gets science-y but not boring. It follows researchers as they dive deep into “how much nature do we need in order to be more successful, more creative and more productive?” It talks about Mental Health and the Outdoors and how screen time is detrimental to all.
I was inspired and I hadn’t even made it to the training yet. And to be completely honest, I didn’t finish any off the other books. I have them and I am going to read them but per usual, life got in the way and I was already sold on Laura Loewy and Backcountry Yoga.
I went to training and met all my fellow trainees. I was inspired by their stories and their ideas. I was inspired on the action they had taken in their lives to get where they need to go and I was inspired by their dreams. I was even MORE inspired by how openly they accepted my deepest dreams and secret desires.
I proclaimed without a second thought “I want to own a holistic Physical Therapy practice where I incorporate yoga, essential oils, healthy eating, mindfulness AND Mother Nature.” Woah, where did that come from?
I had thought these thoughts and dreamed those dreams and I verbalized most of it to Chris and some close friends/family. But I had never proclaimed something so deeply.
Over the course of two days, I learned so much about myself and Mother Nature. I learned about the Backcountry Yoga principles and was inspired to help even more people. AT the same time, I was scared to head back to the my job. But my perspective changed a little, I figured out how I could encourage and motivate patients a little more. I learned what my short term goals were.
And then, there was this past week. I took some much needed PTO and headed to Florida to spend time with Family and Chris. I spent the first half of vacation lounging on the beach In Siesta Key, Florida at my parents place. I read stupid magazine and inspiring books. I worked out with my dad and walked along the beach. I was feeling rejuvenated. The nChris and I went to Miami to be WAY fancier than we ever had been before. (And stay in a hotel for the first time ever together!). We walked 15,000 steps + a day. We explored the Atlantic Ocean, walked the streets and watched the most beautiful sunset while lounging with champagne in hadn’t (fancy, right!?!). We spoke about our dreams and hopes. Where we want our careers to go, what inspired us. We even argued a little bit about patience and taking our times. I once again proclaimed my vision and I was met with more support than I could ever imagine. “I think you’re on to something here babe.”
The next morning we packed up for the Everglades and my first ever backcountry trip. A lot came up for my on this trip, fear, confidence, some more fear, exhaustion, frustration, beauty, elation. But in the end, Mother Nature pulled her magic and soothed our souls. She put on her best show and we were her humble fans.
While two nights ago, I felt dismayed that my dreams were taking too much time (and let’s be real, I am sure I will feel this again.) I now felt optimistic and content. While previously, I was anxious for our vacation to end and for Chris to go back on tour, I felt a sense of peace and calm that this was only the beginning of the adventure, only the beginning of what Mother Nature had to offer us and our collective vision.
We spent two days in Palm Beach. We had two more days soaking in the sun and splashing in the ocean. And during our last dip in the Atlantic Ocean today, I have never felt so playful and joyful. I remember the feeling of giddiness and pure little kid giggles as the waves tossed us around and Chris resurfaced after tickling my feet. I remember pausing to take a moment to fully feel that moment. The goodness, the playfulness, the happiness. No Sunday scares, no vacation blues, no I wish. Just pure, here. now. happiness.
That’s a feeling that was a little lost for a while. But thanks to Mother Nature, it’s back.
I am writing this now as we drive back to Tampa for our flight to good ole Boston and I am still content and optimistic. I know my life hasn’t changed drastically over the past week but I think maybe my perspective has change greatly over the past month. While there are still things I dread, like solo Monday nights in the clinic and Chris leaving again, I know that things will be okay. I know that when I need her Mother Nature is right there to hold my hadn’t and sooth my soul.
I also know that my Outdoor adventures has just begun. I have outdoor adventure goals and feel 100% capable of completing them. I am going to get my Wilderness First Aid Certification and I hope to work more with Backcountry Yoga.
More importantly, I know my life and my career are so deeply intertwined with Mother Nature. I know that healing comes in many forms and that Physical Therapy is more than just exercises and prescriptions. Deep down, I feel it. I feel the role that Mother Nature can have in healing and I am ready to guide others into that space of deep healing.
I am ready to be your healer, your guide and your leader into a space of deeper connection with yourself, your body and Mother Nature. I am here to connect deeply to the earth and to use her wisdom to help others heal (in conjunction with western medicine).
I have lots of ideas swimming in my head and they are slowly coming to fruition. Pen is being put to paper people. And it feels GOOD!
And who doesn’t want to FEEL GOOD? Seriously, think about that. Who the heck does NOT want to feel good?
So Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.
In the meantime, Live Good, Feel Good