Written by Brittany Shenk
I don’t spend enough time in nature anymore, though, until earlier this week, I thought I did. I grew up in the forests of the Pacific Northwest, running around barefoot, surrounded by trees, meadows, rolling hills of green, creeks, and wildlife. This was my normal. In the past six months, due to an increase in my workload, I’ve slowly, unnoticeably, decreased the amount of time I’ve been spending in the forest completely unplugged. I moved to Hawai’i (I know, ultimate paradise), but the cost-of-living-monster shifted my focus from balanced forest fairy to secretly-stressed workaholic beach bum. I’ve spent the past few months with my eyes on a screen while encouraging others to get outside and experience Mother Nature. Realizing the hypocrisy of the situation was embarrassing, though I was genuinely oblivious to my slow disconnect.
Living in Hawai’i, I made time to swim in the ocean for an hour a few times a week. I didn’t completely abandon my relationship with Mother Earth, but the stress creeping up the walls on all sides of this hour distracted me from being fully present with myself and Mama.
I returned to my home early last week. It’s the first time in six months I’ve been back in the Pacific Northwest. My older sister, and best friend, lives and works at an eco-healing retreat in the mountains, so of course, my forest-loving soul wanted to go and spend as much time with her up in the trees as possible. I knew I missed my sister, but what I didn’t realize was how much I missed my Mother.
I could write out detailed events of my experiences at the eco-retreat; the empowerment and wildness I stepped into after crawling out of the hot springs, standing naked in front of the icy river, sun touching every inch of my skin, steam from the hot spring water wisping off my arms and breasts. I could describe the high-vibe food, the yoga yurts, the hiking trails, the cougar sighting, the bridges made from fallen trees, the nature workshops, the gong meditations, the sky hammock, the authentic humans I met and the rawness I witnessed in their eyes.
But I won’t. Not yet. Not this time.
What I will do is admit that I am human, and I forget to do the things I enthusiastically urge others to do without realizing that I need to take my own advice. It’s one thing to understand the science and meaning of the words and understand how crucial it is for our bodies and souls to connect with nature every day, but another to consciously do it. Like so many other humans, I get caught in the swirling vortex of time moving too fast, and it slips away faster than I can hang onto it.
My point in writing to you all today is to tell you I sometimes move too fast through my day. I do yoga but I still get stressed out. I forget to drink enough water some days and other days I spend too much time behind my screen. And though the majority of my thoughts are about Mother Nature and healing her, I forget to sit my bum in the forest as much as my soul needs.
My point in writing to you today is to let you know that there are thousands of other humans out there, all doing our best to do it all, accomplish everything, create balance in our daily schedules, and find time to check off all the items on our to-do lists. That if you feel this way, you are not alone, and we are more alike than you may know.
My point in writing to you today is to speak from my soul to your soul, to tell you we are not imperfect humans but instead, we are all perfect. I’m writing to gently remind you to remove any pressure you have on yourself to perform or succeed. To check-in with yourself and listen to the sweet, patient voice whispering quietly to you throughout the day. What does she need? An extra long bubble bath with a glass of red wine? A solo hike in the hills behind your home? A walk in the nearby botanic gardens? A salt water swim in the ocean?
My point in writing to you today is simply to remind you to find time to wander in nature, to connect with your self and other extraordinary humans, and to just try to do it more often. To nurture yourself. To truly set aside time to just be unplugged. However that fits with your soul. To find community within yourself, and within others.
Turn off the phone, put your feet in the river, and watch the salmon sway with the current.