The past few months have been a busy time in my time. I would describe this past fall season as an equal combination of tense and intense. So what do I do when darkness strikes? I find solitude in that which is comforting to me. Where do I go? The great outdoors. Long walks with my kids, snowboarding at the local mountains, bike rides, the tennis courts and soccer fields, forest adventures, and of course the playground is our home away from home.
As a child, I could be found outside for more hours of the day than inside. When I wasn’t studying, I was playing. And naturally, I was playing with my friends outside. In addition to free play every single afternoon until I was called in for dinner, I participated in a variety of sports, and held numerous jobs, many of which involved a combination of my three favourite things: people, physical activity, and fresh air. The perfect job was when I could incorporate not just one or two of these items, but all three. Looking back, the three jobs that I was most happiest at were as a lifeguard at the beaches in Vancouver (Kitsilano and Spanish Banks were my favourite), basketball coach with an inner city league for youth at risk, and newspaper delivery girl when I was 9 years old.
Many know that I am a huge advocate for physical activity, fitness, adventure, and being in nature. I grew up playing every possible sport that I could try and most of them at a competitive level. My favourites included field hockey, track and field, karate, snowboarding, swimming, cross country running, volleyball, and tennis. I even tried rugby in the position of outside centre for my sprinting skills. I competed at the B.C. Summer Games representing the Fraser South region in track and field as a teen, and went on to be invited to the varsity team at the University of British Columbia.
There are numerous benefits to exercise and fresh air, ranging from the therapeutic aspect, physical health, cognitive capabilities, and emotional wellbeing. I recently came across a study that examined responses of people following being shown pictures of majestic mountains and pictures of beautiful architecture. Don’t get me wrong, I love architecture, transport me to Europe, Prague in particular, and I am in my happy place. However, the findings of the research study found that people responded to the questions with higher levels of happiness and inspiration after seeing the images of the great outdoors.
We live in a beautiful world. The world is our herring. Nothing is out of our reach. When we see the beauty and majesty of G-d’s creations, we feel an inner sense of peace and inspiration. We feel a pull to reach for something bigger and greater, rather than getting sucked into feelings of stress, depression, anxiety, tension. These are very real feelings. For some, physical activity and fresh air help alleviate many of the stressors in life, and for some, it is a fabulous supplement to therapy and/or medication. Give it a try, you have nothing to lose. And this time of year, just throw on a warm pair of boots, gloves, and hat, and you are ready to explore!
Happy first day of winter,
P.S. Yes, that's me snowboarding at Cypress Mountain this past Sunday.