Updated: May 26, 2021
I often get asked how I got started in the outdoors. And my answer is that I never really ever got started....It just kind of became a part of me or I became a part of it. In almost all of my memories as a kid, I can remember being outside - in the woods, on the soccer field, at girls camp, in the tree at my great-grandparents house. I was always into something outside.
Some of my earliest memories are of this duplex we lived in when I was probably 5 or 6. The woods were close by so my brother and I spent a lot of time playing out there. One time my dad, my brother, & I built a giant teepee in the woods and I was obsessed with it. It has to be at least 10 feet tall & it so well made. After that, I always wanted to be out in the woods building stuff with my dad.
Skip forward a bit...our family started going to Fall Creek Falls state park every year for vacation. We couldn’t afford to do anything grand so camping with my grandparents was our way of getting away. My dad didn’t like it bc he didn’t know why we wanted to sleep on the ground when we had beds at home. Sometimes he wouldn’t come with us. But I loved it. Every minute of it. I learned so much about myself and my independence while there. I was trusted to come and go as I pleased so most the time I’d be swimming or hanging out at the nature center or riding my bike with my brother. It was my happy place.
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I remember it being my happy place for many reasons but mostly bc my parents fought a lot at home and their fights scared me so when we would go to FCFs, either my dad wouldn’t go or he’d come & my parents wouldn’t fight bc my grandparents were there. I always felt a sense of relief & my anxiety subsided.
This is around the time that I met my best friend Lauren. She lived up the street from me and we basically became inseparable from the day we met. We’d meet up behind our houses in the woods and spend all day together. We’d attempt to build clubhouses, we’d have picnics, and some days we would just walk for miles and miles until the woods ended. Thinking back on that now, I was using some of that time out there as an escape from what was going on at home, but also as a way to heal & comfort myself. Lauren had her own struggles so I think it was similar for both of us. We helped lift each other up & keep each other strong.
I talk about my earlier days like this bc it’s what has shaped my relationship with the outdoors today. I simply would not have the respect & appreciation for the land & nature if it wasn’t for those experiences. The good and the bad.
As cheesy as all this may sound, I now understand that I had to go through those experiences to find out that nature heals and that it can serve as a place of solace & reprieve from my rough times. It can also be a place of curiosity, learning, & self-discovery. And now in my adult years I find it to be a place where community & connection come together.
Before I sign off & continue this vulnerability thing I also want to recognize that my ancestors are also a huge reason why I feel connected to the outdoors and nature but let’s dive into that next time. ✌🏽