Thursday, October 11, 2012

Reconnecting with nature

Imagine you’re sitting in a mall food court on one of those plastic seats.  You’re eating a slightly stale and sickeningly sweet cinnamon bun. You’re not really hungry, and it smelled better than it tastes. You wash it down with a soda that makes your teeth ache.
Now imagine that you’re perched on a mossy log with a hot bowl of steaming pasta on your lap. You’re famished from a day of activity, and the pasta fills your empty belly and regenerates your happily tired body. A pot of tea comes to a boil over the fire in front of you and warms your toes.

Sometimes getting in touch with the earth can be inconvenient. It’s cold outside, so we’d rather be in. We’re hungry, but we’d rather buy something pre-made than cook something from fresh, whole ingredients.  Lounging on the couch is more relaxing than taking a walk in the woods.
But the emotional, physical and psychological rewards that come from being in the natural world are hard to beat.  There are challenges that can be overcome, lessons that can be learned and relationships that can be built outdoors that cannot be matched inside.  There are also important correlations between being outside and our well-being  – emotional and physical health, intelligence and creativity are all positively impacted when we spend time in nature.

There is an infographic that you might have seen lately about brand and plant recognition.

Take a moment to think about why you might recognize the brand of a sugary soft drink before you recognize the shape of a sugar maple tree.

Try to do something small every day to put yourself in touch with the earth.

If you feel cold, take a minute before you go inside. Move around, generate your own body heat, or put on a sweater.

Drink water when you’re thirsty.

If you need to get somewhere, use the power of your body to get there. Walk, or run, or ride a bike.
Carry a piece of fruit for the day. Save it for when you’re truly hungry. Feel its heaviness in your hand and when you bite into it, let its juice cool your throat. Don’t throw out the peel or core, but keep it with you for a while, and think about where it’ll end up when you do throw it out, and how it will get there.

Put up a bird feeder and watch who comes.

 You will find more in the woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach you that which you can never learn from masters.” – St. Bernard

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Outward Bound Canada is celebrating 25 years of “Women of Courage”

Tonight we’ll be celebrating 25 years of the Women of Courage (WoC) program, which has given over 1000 women the opportunity to experience renewed self-confidence and self-worth in beautiful natural environments. We’ll be celebrating with an evening of wine and cheese from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m., and  meeting at Tory’s LLP Toronto offices, 79 Wellington Street West, 33rd floor.

Alumni will speak about the impact the program has had on their lives, and OBC staff will share future plans for the expansion of the program.  We’ll also be recognizing the major fundraising efforts of the 2012 Mt. Kilimanjaro team and the 2011 and 2012 Yukon River Quest teams which have together raised $150,000 for the program in the last year.  

Women of courage courses have been created for women who are involved in the process of healing that follows the self-acknowledgement of an experience of abuse. This could include sexual, physical or emotional abuse, perpetrated by any individual or group, and experienced at any time during the woman’s life.

The course is an 8-day expedition, where women paddle into the wilderness with only what they truly need – food, shelter and gear – packed into their canoes.

Shannon Hartwig has been an instructor with OBC since 2008. She ran her first WoC course last summer. “Working within the WoC program feels less like being an instructor and more like getting an invaluable opportunity to travel through an amazing journey with women who I could learn a great deal from,” Shannon explains.

“Although it can be difficult for all of us when it is raining or when we need to figure out how to work through personality differences, there is nothing more captivating than watching women do things they never thought was possible for them - like swim in a lake for the first time, or portage a canoe, or open up to group of new people. It is such a gift to watch people be so awe of their own potential.”
If you’d like to join us in celebrating 25 years of the Women of Courage program, please RSVP with