Over the past couple of months, spring has slowing been inching forward to the point, I think we can safely say it’s here and chugging along quite nicely.
All over our Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and on our Instagram accounts, haven’t we been bombarded with pictures announcing, “spring is finally upon us; it’s a time for new outdoor adventures.”
Spring flowers, newly born baby animals, and the forests are to starting to wake up with buds on the trees. When I see these first new shoots of growth in springtime each year, I often think: how small, or how delicate they are.
How do they make it through the harshness of a Canadian winter? I’m not sure, but they seem to make it every year.
Out in the forests and all across Ontario, new wildflowers and other colourful plants are starting to or have made an appearance.
Just around the corner will be the explosion of trilliums all across forest floors in Ontario.
But, it wasn’t all that long ago, just after the snow melted there wasn’t a flower to be had. Whether it be in your garden or out in the bush beside a trail, there was nothing.
Not a plant in sight; nope – not even a bud on a tree.
In fact, even on trails a month or so ago, you’d see nothing but a sea of leaves and forest debris on the ground. Everything was brown and kind of sad like.
But, we all know there is life under all those leaves and stuff in the forest, or buried underground in your garden at home. Everything just waiting to announce, “A new season is here; time for a change.”
How do these delicate little spring flowers burst forth from a desolate and debris covered wintered existence to be what they are called to be?
How do they push up through all the dirt, leaves, twigs and layers of stuff from the winter and tell us, “Hey, it’s me. I’m that beautiful spring flower here to give you hope that a new season is upon us.”
Well, I’m not sure of the science behind how it all happens. My guess is that warmth, rain, and a bunch of other things need to happen. But, this is what I do know. It does happen each spring and that announces – change is about to happen.
But what’s the change?
It’s the change from the harshness of winter; the cold and stormy days and nights when only the bravest head outside……. to a new season; a re-birth to something beautiful and special.
We look forward to spring.
The trilliums and wildflowers of the forest do it; the crocuses and daffodils in our gardens do it.
Maybe this could be the start of a new season for someone; maybe you?; maybe me?
Maybe this is the season to punch through the:
- the leaves,
- the dirt,
- the twigs
- forest floor debris
- everything that has smothered you/me
- and smothered you/me from what?
From being covered in leaves, dirt and debris …..to then being everything that you are supposed to be; that I’m supposed to be; that we’re supposed to be.
To start that process to become that beautiful and delicate spring wildflower for the world to behold.
So, by this point you may be thinking:
- it’s time for a change
- I’m not who I’m supposed to be
- I need to make something happen here
- this place right now is not where I want to be
- I need to grow
You might also be thinking how? How do I do this?
Honestly, I don’t have the answer to that. I wish that I did because I would freely give it away to the world.
You see, I’m in the same boat as you.
I’ve been covered up by mud, dirt and forest debris. Longing to spring up out of the ground and shake all that stuff off. To move on from that place and journey to something better. Oh, I’ve been there!
You see, I’ve dealt with significant issues of depression in the past. Hey, I’m far from perfect. Even these days dealing at times with issues of:
- trying to figure out my place in the universe;
- where do I fit in;
- do I have anything to contribute;
BUT, I always come back to this….
When I’m outside in nature on a hiking adventure; taking pictures with Lynn; dipping a paddle into the water from a canoe on a still summer morning; all of the issues go away.
- feelings of low self-esteem – gone;
- anxiety – gone;
- do I have anything to contribute – gone;
- who am I in the universe – gone.
For me, being outdoors refills/refuels my soul and mental well-being that gets worn down from “just living.” At that moment in time, I’m at one with where I’m at – with nature and the outdoors. Oh, I may have to deal with things when I get back, but for those 6, 8, 10 hours on a trail; or a couple of days on a backcountry trip… I can let those things go. But, when I get back, I know I’m ready for the battle one more time.
The neat thing is, I know so many others who get outside for those very same reasons. However, let’s not forget we also get out because we enjoy adventure and the outdoors, seeing new things, challenging ourselves, meeting friends, and love the outdoor thing that we do whether it’s hiking canoe/kayaking, camping; you name it.
Now, this just isn’t me running on at my mouth, about something that isn’t rooted in some sort science and studied by others way above my pay-grade.
A wealth of research has had a funny way of showing up all over my social media and mainstream media news-feeds.
Recent tweets by Ontario Parks on #WorldHealthDay
- a two-hour walk in the woods is enough to improve sleep quality and help relieve sleep problems
- research shows that camping in nature is good for our mental and physical well-being
- the fresh scent of pine has been shown to lower depression and anxiety
Other research indicates(and this is only a SMALL, SMALL sampling of material):
- people who focus too much on negative thoughts about themselves can exhibit anxiety, depression, as well as a host of other issues and that hiking in nature, decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts.
- people who walked for 90 minutes outdoors in nature reported lower levels of rumination which is associated with mental illness
- our world is becoming more and more urban and that urbanization is linked to depression and other forms of mental illness and that removing ourselves from an urban environment to spend time outdoors where there are fewer mental stressors, less noise, and fewer distractions can be advantageous for our mental health.
- unplugging from technology and reconnecting with nature boosts problem-solving
- a new Oregon State University study of almost 4,500 people confirms the widely held belief about nature – finding it improves well-being
- research also indicates that a weekend camping trip sleeping in a tent helps to reset our internal body clocks which helps us to sleep better
- and the list goes on and on
So, what does all this mean?
Maybe it’s time to take a step. A step that starts to shake off the dirt and debris. To get outside; feel the sunshine on your face; the smell of pine in a forest.
For each of us, that step will be different. And only you know what that step will be.
They say the journey of a thousand miles starts with a simple step. Maybe that’s all you need to do today – is just take a simple step.
Just that one lone step that shakes off one little bit of dirt or a simple leaf that covers part of you. You don’t have to walk the thousand mile journey this week. But, you may need to start.
I know that for some of you who might be dealing with depression or other similar issues, that even getting out of bed in the morning is impossible or exceedingly difficult. I wish I was there to take your hand and say, “let’s try just one step.” All I can say is, “Give the outdoors a chance. Try to get outside, even if it is only one step out the front door.” Maybe that is YOUR FIRST STEP!
You might be reading this and think, “hey I’m in a good place in my life right now.”
Perfect, because maybe you’re the person that needs to call up a friend, family member or your spouse, son or daughter and say, “it’s a beautiful day out, let’s go for a walk in the county forest or the trail along the waterfront. It will do us both good.” Call up that person who because of where they are in life, can’t get motivated to get outside. Call them – please!
Just getting out on a trail near you and unplugging from technology for a couple of hours will help to clear your mind and maybe you’ll see things in a different light.
Perhaps, you’re stuck in a rut in your life, or at a place where you need to push the limits a bit.; to see who you are; maybe this is a good time in the seasons of your life to try something you believed you would never achieve; could never even think about trying due to some fear holding you back. If this is you, this could be the season to get rid of some the debris and dirt holding you down. Take an outdoors course someplace; learn to canoe or kayak; learn to camp; sign up for an adventure outing; take a rock climbing lesson. Or maybe, just a take a walk in the woods.
You see, if we’re really honest with ourselves we all have forest debris, leaves, dirt and stuff holding us back from blooming into the thing we’re meant to be. My prayer is that we work on getting rid of some of that stuff. Let the outdoors and nature help us along the way.
I can only speak for myself and no one else. But, the outdoors and all that it has offered to me in terms of my physical and mental well-being has more than likely kept me on the right side of the grass for a long time.
I want to finish on this note. The inspiration for this post came from pictures Lynn had taken on a recent outing in Grey County and some spring photos of crocuses and flowers that a fellow blogger and friend Joyce(@gooutside.live) had posted.
I would encourage any of you that feel you need to take a step; want to take a step or want to read about taking a step, go to Joyce’s blog “gooutside.live. Give the link a click. She has a great story, that will encourage all to “just take a step.” In addition, she simply crushes the outdoor adventure stuff and is a “hell of a nice person” besides.
Hey, thanks for reading. I hope you find encouragement to get outside and give the outdoors a chance.