It's all a bit overwhelming isn't it? I'm not sure exactly what I am referring to, January, the weather, COVID, the never-ending, always-changing lockdown rules. Most recently I find myself being overwhelmed by all the people telling me to go outside and notice nature. (And yes, I do see the irony.)
I keep getting notifications about the latest author or celebrity who has adopted walking, gardening or bird watching and is writing about it. The radio, magazines and podcasts, are all at it. I don't even have a television but it has filtered through to me that a certain popular nature programme was talking about green health volunteering this week. Of course it's self selection, confirmation bias, the law of attraction - whatever you want to call it - I am interested in all these things and so they find their way to me, but that makes it even more difficult when you simply cannot do all of the things. I'm even feeling the pressure to make sure my home schooling is sufficiently green - and I don't have any children!
A lot of people talk about winter being a time of hibernation and of course it is for some animals. Spending the winter months in a state of sleep initially sounds appealing but then starts to conjure up a bedroom with a huge pile of duvets, slightly stale air, cups growing mould and plates covered in crumbs. It doesn't sound very healthy - and we are called Get Outdoors Lanarkshire. Instead I'd suggest that there is a balance to be found between movement and stillness, between indoors and out. This is a time to slow down, conserve your energy and replenish yourself mentally, physically and emotionally for new growth in Spring but it is important to keep moving and to get outside.
So I'm going back to the small and the slow. I'm going to stop pretending to myself that I can learn about every star in the sky, but on a clear night I am going to go outside and stand and look at them, and maybe try and find the Plough and Polaris. I'm going to take daily walks and look for the new shoots - I've already seen snowdrops and a single lone daffodil. I'm going to take my camera outside and look for small things to take pictures of, like the snail above.
This week I read an article about how an intention turns walking into a pilgrimage which puts a different slant on that trip to Morrison's to buy another packet of Fruitella fizzy snakes (other brands of supermarket and fizzy snake are available). Of course just one article on pilgrimages was not enough, soon I was finding them everywhere, but that doesn't mean it's not a good idea. If you want to give it a go then here's a beautiful guide to taking a pilgrimage from home or you could go on a virtual pilgrimage in Japan. If you want to find out more about some of the great pilgrim routes in Britain check out The British Pilgrimage Trust. I love that their logo is a snail.
In a moment of so-called inspiration I sent my yoga teacher a text asking her whether there is a yoga pose called "snail". I got the immediate answer back "YES!" and I was instantly excited and ready to suggest we could all be snails. Then she sent me an image of the pose, and I changed my mind. But if it appeals to you and you're able for it then why not?
I'm going to try and bring more intention to the things I do, so that I am not overwhelmed by all the people suggesting the many different things that I could or should be doing outside. I hope I am not adding to those voices. The simple message is to find what you like about nature and focus on that, in a small way, and slowly.
So to bring the outdoors to where you are now, and with nothing you need to do other than click a button, I will share this recording of Farewell to Stromness, one of my favourite pieces of music. It was recorded in Crear, so not a million miles away - although at the moment it may as well be. Take 5 minutes out to enjoy both the music and the beach, the blue skies and the snow capped mountains. (And explore Adrian Lord's website for more amazingly scenic music, especially if you are missing the beach.)
Finally just to remind you that we do have a range of online nature connection sessions coming up, which you can check out on our eventbrite page.