Creating connections through the outdoors.


Darwin at Work

I found this video very interesting and wanted to share.  Changes, no matter how small or slow, have profound effects on the world in which we live in.


And the survey says…

So I want to be healthy and happy.  What do I need to do?  I should start by eating healthy.  Ok, to do that, I need to avoid processed foods, fast food, foods with lots of sugar, red meat, some types of fish, and saturated fat.  Well maybe I don’t need to avoid saturated fat if it comes from certain sources.  Wait a minute, my diet should be low in carbs, high in protein, and vegetarian, no vegan, but I can have meat once a week and fish is ok.  Is it?  I can’t eat too much fish now because it is being overfished.  Before I forget, I can treat myself to the occasional “junk food”.  Is this going to cause me to lose weight?  What if I want to gain weight?  I am supposed to eat more meat now, and include superfoods (What is the effect of Kryptonite on these?).  Should all of this be organic or local?  It should be both, but if I need to choose local is better than organic for the planet, and organic is better for my body.  Now I also need to make sure I drink lots of water and for best physical performance I should calculate how much I need based on a number of factors.  Diuretics are bad, but coffee and tea are good.  Ok, I have my diet figured out, I think.  Oh, I can also drink alcohol because it will make me smarter.  However, I can only drink so much.  Red wine is the best, but other kinds of alcohol are good too.  Isn’t alcohol also a diuretic?  This one is for sure, I shouldn’t smoke and I should exercise regularly.  I need to reduce the amount of time I spend sitting, take at least 5000 steps a day and exercise for at least 30 minutes.  I also need to spend time relaxing and not doing anything.  Now, to be happy I should have a bucket list, not compare myself to others, and have a job that is fulfilling and challenging.  I can’t work too much though, but I should work until I am 67 years old.  I should quit my current job and do something that I enjoy.  No I shouldn’t.  I enjoy what I do, mostly, and it allows me to do what I enjoy to do.  I need a routine, or is it that I need to be spontaneous?  Too much technology is bad, I need to disconnect, but it is also good to stay connected, to help reduce stress.  I can also use it as a tool for work and learning.  Now what I also need to do…

THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!  I’m going to just do what I enjoy: Go outside, live a balanced lifestyle and treat myself accordingly.

Trying to follow all of the studies that come out these days can cause us a great deal of extra stress and worry.  They are also always changing and new ones are coming out every day.  I can’t keep them straight and why should I try to?  Life is more enjoyable when I just live with balance.  April is stress awareness month, so do something you enjoy and don’t worry if you treat yourself occasionally.  Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.  Studies are not all bad.  They give us insight into things we may have forgotten along the way.  However, they are not to be relied on.  I do know this for sure and have done my own study to prove this: The outdoors is good for me.  How do I know?  Going outside helps me relax, keeps me active and is enjoyable.

This weeks idea:  Do your own study.  Go outside, treat yourself and relax.  See how it makes you feel.  As with any study, write down your results and share them with others.  This should be the only study that you follow (The following video has some pretty good advice too)!

Relax, Just do it!

April is Stress Awareness Month and this past Monday, April 16 was Stress Awareness Day.  Since I am working everyday this week (I do work outside!) and don’t want to stress about writing, I am just going to give you this one link:

10 Health Benefits of Relaxation

The post on Stats and Studies will come next Wednesday, April 25!

Emulating Octopi

Before I begin going into the topic of this post, I would like to straighten out a few details regarding the title.  The plural form of ‘octopus’ is actually ‘octopuses’.  It is the most common form and is the most widely accepted.  ‘Octopi’ is objectionable in some cases and is not always listed as being a correct plural form.  However, I do prefer the way this title rolls off the tongue, despite the possibility of it being incorrect.  Enough of this rambling, now into the post…

Take a good look at the things around you.  What do you see?  Cars have 5-star safety ratings, we are trying to eliminate global terrorism, there are warning labels on almost every food, playgrounds are to be removed from some schools, that little bump in the sidewalk is painted yellow.  There are so many things out there to try to minimize the risk that we are exposed to every day.  Now imagine these things in nature.  On your hike through the woods, there are fences on the sides of the trails to keep creatures out, roots and rocks are painted bright colours or removed completely, signs warn you of what might be unexpected around the next bend in the trail.  It all sounds a little ridiculous, but that is what our society is moving towards.  We try to minimize the risk that we are exposed to in almost every way.  We are striving for perfection.

Looking at nature, we are going at all of this the wrong way.  Adaptation by organisms, such as the octopus, carry no goal of perfection.  Trying to eliminate risk in our lives is like trying to eliminate predation in nature. It is a bit of a ridiculous concept.  The relationships that have developed in nature over the last millions of years come from adaptations to hostile interactions.  They have created symbiotic relationships that work!  The octopus is a good example.  It has multiple solutions to deal with the problems that it is faced with.  For the octopus, when there is trouble, there is no one right way to deal with it.  The octopus expects the unexpected!

This exposure to risk has the possibility to be dangerous.  However, it keeps us alive, makes us think for ourselves, helps us to deal with everyday problems and is what makes being human exciting.  For all of us big kids, we grew up with this exposure to risk in our lives.  I know that I occasionally got hurt, but that is how I learned about the world.  It was all trial and error.  I think that this exposure to natural risk has made me into a well-rounded individual.  I feel I can make solid decisions in all aspect of my life.  What will things be like without that exposure to natural spaces and risk?  Striving to perfect our environment is taking away from a lot of the things that we all grew up with.  Youth now have a lot less exposure to a lot of the things we remember about being a kid.  I will give you a quote from a blog entry about how children should exercise.  It has multiple meanings and we can all take learning from it:

“Kids do dangerous things as a rule. They ride skateboards and make jumps. They climb trees and fall from them – sometimes on purpose to “see what happens.” They play football, get in scuffles, and make hairpin turns at breakneck speeds while dribbling a ball (with either hands or feet). Sports are dangerous, sure, but so is just about anything you do involving your body and the laws of physics. Let them figure it out. You’ll be there if something goes wrong.”

Read more:

I say to embrace risk in your life and let others do the same.  Let us stop trying to perfect our world.  It just cannot be done.  Instead, let us all learn to live with the risks we are faced with.  Everything from finances and work to exercise and play.  Take from the octopus, and have multiple solutions to our problems.  I like to embrace risk in my life.  It is exciting, and is how nature has dealt with problems for millions of years.

April is G.O. month. What does that mean?  I think you should just G.O.!  (For those of you who don’t want to click on this link, it stands for ‘Get Outside’).  Here are some ideas to get started:

  • Start a garden
  • Organize a neighbourhood clean-up
  • Join a walking/running group
  • Host a BBQ
  • Help out at a local farm
  • Volunteer for a nature group
  • Go camping (Not RVing)
  • Play in the mud!

Now for this week’s idea: Stop avoiding things that may seem a little dangerous, and do something ‘risky’!  Remember to emulate octopi (or octopuses).  Stop trying to eliminate risk in your life and learn to live with it.  It will make things more exciting as well as making life easier.  Risk cannot be eliminated and, in learning from one of the most well-adapted organisms on this planet, don’t try to.

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on how you live with risk in the comments section below!

What is the Worst that Could Happen?

The outdoors gets a bad rap.  We talk about the bad weather, the accidents that happen, the hardships of living off the land, and a lot more.  What we forget to mention are all of the benefits of spending time in the natural world and all of the enjoyment that comes from disconnecting.  There is so much information and new research out there that talks about the importance of a balance in your life.  The average person today spends 35% of their waking hours in front of a television or a computer.  That is equal to 4 hours and 20 minutes every day.  Some of that time needs to be balanced because we are loosing our connection with the natural world.  Historically, we are connected to nature as a species and we rely on it to survive.  The problem is the convenience of technology has begun to pull us away from it all.

Most of the time spent in the outdoors today, we look past all of the flora and fauna around us.  In the walk to our car, we are missing out on at least half of what we might be able to experience in the outdoors.  This has become know as plant blindness, where we do not see or notice the natural things around us because of our misguided tendency to rank them as being inferior.  This tendency is cause partially by how we perceive the world around us as well as our views as a society.   Our communities as a whole put a dollar value on all of the land around us.  We rank areas of land by how much money it is able to generate.  An “empty space” or natural area does not bring in revenue for the community.  This opens them up to businesses for development.  Despite the fact that these areas may not have a large dollar value, they are greatly important to our health and well being.  We are part of the natural world, but how can we “…protect something that we do not love, we cannot love something we do not know, and we cannot know something we do not see.  Or hear.  Or Sense.” (R. Louv, 2011).

I believe all of this can be summed up into a single sentence.  As William Bruce Cameron (made famous by Albert Einstein) has stated so eloquently, “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

There is great joy that can be found in experiencing something new.  Time seems to slow and things are more memorable the first time.  When we are in a new environment or are trying something for the first time, the neurons in the the brain fire at a faster rate.  This makes us perceive time as moving more slowly and gives us more vivid memories.  We are only around on this planet for such a brief amount of time.  Why does it have to go by so quickly?  If I can “cheat” a little extra time by trying something new, I am going to.

All of the benefits that I have talked about cannot be realized unless you go out and try spending some unstructured time in the outdoors.  The worst thing that could happen.  You could find something new and exciting.  That is something worth sharing!  And the best thing about activities in nature: They are free!  All they require is a little creativity.

Here are a few reading materials for you for that time indoors:

This week’s idea: Go find a spot in nature, around your home, work, school, etc., that resonates with you.  Make it a new place that you find relaxing or enjoyable (Be creative!) and spend some time there.  Bundle up and dress for the weather.  Finally, make sure that you have something comfortable waiting for you when you get back.

(Theme: Awareness)