There are probably very few absolute truths, ideas or recommendations that everyone will agree on out there. But one that I have yet to find hotly disputed is the value of nature and being outside. Across a variety of different areas of research and expertise, across time and cultures, in literature, media, and in daily life it seems that a constant element of the “good life” includes time spent in and an appreciation for nature. Beautiful landscapes and wildlife can be awe inspiring and rejuvenating in ways that cannot be paralleled. And thankfully, over the past month my many travels have included ample opportunity for time spent out and in admiration of the outdoors, including my current vacation in Denver in which Jonathan and I have spent several days camping and hiking in some absolutely breathtaking (actually literally due to the altitude) mountains, SUP-ing on class three rapids, and boating. Although I have been on the go a lot as of late and ready to get back to my beloved normal routine, I have to say this has been time well spent and very refreshing.
As a Type A Doer who honestly and truly loves to work and be productive, I find myself very often undervaluing downtime and relaxation. Although I may objectively spend more time than a lot of others outside because I walk everywhere, I don’t always appreciate the value of nature nearly enough because I am usually doing so with a purpose or multitasking. I am often walking Coco and Lulu to stop by the park on the way to barre or listening to a podcast while running errands around town. Even most of our vacations and holidays are packed full of sightseeing and fun activities, which means that we have had the opportunity to see a lot of really cool things (natural and manmade), but it’s rare that things are as a quiet or slow paced as they have been the past few days. I remember the first time that Jon and I went camping together several years ago now and wondering WHAT in the world we were going to DO the whole time we were away. Then, as has been the case this time around, was ultimately a great opportunity for quality time together and to just be.
We’ve been sleeping in a tent, I haven’t showered in DAYS, and I’ve definitely experienced some of the infamous altitude sickness, but still, it’s been fabulous. The landscape is unparalleled as is the company of course. We’re feeling refreshed, inspired and happier. Which is no surprise because several studieshave shown that “nature relatedness,” or the extent to which we emotionally connect to nature predicts happiness regardless of other psychological factors. Prolific 18th century writer Samuel Johnson even went as far as to argue that “deviation from nature is deviation from happiness.” And other researchhas shown that that outdoor education can positively impact students’ intrinsic motivation to learn. All in all, it seems that the value of nature can hardly be overstated. Plus, it’s really pretty.
I also always like the challenge of figuring out food and eating on-the-go or away from all the luxuries of cooking in my own kitchen. This week has meant cooking with literally no utensils on a small little propane gas burner using ingredients kept in a small cooler in a locked box (as this is an “active bear area”). It has also meant a lot of being on the move and active throughout the day which calls for some healthy and satiating snacks like this yummy Paleo Trail Mix incorporating just the right blend of sweet and savory (and easily made Whole30 if you leave out the dark chocolate espresso beans!) for trekking up the side of mountains or just sitting around a campfire.
- Raw Almonds 1 cup (100 g)
- Raw Cashews 1 cup (150 g)
- Shelled Pistachios .5 cup (50 g)
- Unsweetened Coconut Chips/Flakes .5 cup (25 g)
- Freeze Dried or Dehydrated Strawberries .5 cup (15 g)
- Dark Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans (omit for Whole30 version) .5 cup (78 g)
- Combine all the ingredients and mix up well by shaking in a plastic bag or just using your hands.