I am a city girl but my heart is in the country. Much of my childhood was spent on my grandparents farm in the middle of no-where, Saskatchewan. Some of my fondest childhood memories were spent on the farm during school breaks.
I would visit with the animals at the barn and help milk the cows and carry large buckets of feed to the pigs. I tended to the garden with my grandparents and learned to plant tomatoes. I swam in the creek and caught minnows and frogs. I adored Nipper the playful and silly farm dog who chased cows and got kicked in the face.
Nipper and I went for a lot of walks together through the bush that surrounded the homestead. Each time I went into the “forest” I challenged myself to go deeper and with each step I took, I felt a little more courageous and satisfied. Looking back, this was my first experience with hiking. Just Nipper and I exploring nature.
Depression hit when I was about thirteen years old and I began to pull away from activities that I enjoyed in exchange for detrimental experiences. Being a member of sea cadets was my saving grace from completely spiraling out of control. My favorite activities in cadets were the ones we did outdoors like hiking, learning outdoor survival skills, and learning how to sail. I was completely in my element.
The survival skills that I learned for the outdoors were replaced by surviving day to day in life. Depression consumed me and alcohol had become a crutch. I had been in survival mode for about ten years when I met my husband.
A few days after we met he went on a solo camping trip to Yellowstone National Park. A couple of months later, we went on our first camping trip together to Riding Mountain National Park, a place that I frequented as a child. I fell back in love with the outdoors.
The outdoors has become a powerful tool for me in managing my mental heath. I feel returned to the innocence similar to that of my childhood when I am hiking a trail. My troubles cease to exist and my mind feels free from limitations. I have determination and courage to go the extra steps.
My soul soaks up every ounce of the emotional connection I have to nature. The smell of dirt, the breeze on my skin, and the silence of the surroundings weave together an experience that is rejuvenating and the ultimate in self care. I feel I can take on the world when I am at home in nature.