Sunday, March 27, 2016

THE OUTDOORS: Available to ANYONE...Good for EVERYONE!

Do you ever have 'great ideas', and think 'that sounds like fun', but find yourself backing out when the opportunity presents itself?  I do...  Though I have a joy filled life and a wonderful family, I am in a very busy season of life.  I'm tired.  I am a mother of young children, running a business with no 'set hours', and living amongst days that have no beginning or end.  Sometimes it feels like one continuous marathon of sleeplessness and 'needs' calling me in all directions.  I find myself looking at the illusion of social media, where people seem to live on vacation and in rested, limitless bliss; this brings the question to my mind often... 'how can they do that?'

Lets change this wrong thinking today!  Its really not about what 'they' do.  No matter where we live, no matter what we do for a living, we ALL have the same resource at our fingertips.... THE OUTDOORS.  I want my family to experience all the outdoors has to offer.  This is an easy thing for me to say, but I find myself struggling with the effort, time, or planning it takes to make this happen.

Lets face it, there are some outdoor excursions that require extensive preparations.  For some (like me), just getting everyone through the door in any direction may take the same amount (or more time) than we even spend outside!  Most of the time, in getting out with the family, I may look like I just rolled out of bed; somehow, its seems better to invest in these moments, rather than remember how beautiful I was while my family sat in front of the TV.  Ultimately.... this effort is worth it.  

Lets talk about the amazing benefits of being outdoors:
  • Anytime outdoors is an experience that can NEVER be repeated.  Simply by stepping out the door, you have experienced a setting that will never be as it was that day.  Things are always changing, a tree falls, the snow melts, the clouds move, the animals pass by ....... a moment missed outdoors is one that can never be copied and pasted to another time.  
  • The simple physical act of being outside removes the distractions that we can never really escape from within our home.  Inside, phones still ring, toys call their name, work calls our name, etc.  Outdoors we have the choice but to unplug from that, and find some silence together. 
  • Spending any time outdoors in an investment in your health and many other things.  Studies have shown that being outdoors increases the physical activity of children and youth.  Similar studies also show that exposure to the natural environment can have numerous health benefits (including mental health).  One could easily draw connections from this to many things.  Getting outdoors is beneficial for your mental health, which in turn can affect your physical health, relationships, and so on.  
  • Take all this benefits and involve someone from the next generation.  By investing outdoor time, you are cultivating, in them, the value of the outdoors.  You have the potential to affect their future health, relationships, and they may be the ones to help preserve this for the generations to follow!

Here are some quick tips to help you love the outdoors and teach your family to love the outdoors!  

  • Engage:  Engage your family and friends in your activity.  An experience that happens with the presence of others creates longstanding memories.
  • Withdraw:  Put aside the distracting things in your life, so that you can be fully present.   Be present whether with someone, with yourself, or with God.  Even Jesus withdrew to the wilderness in order to spend time talking with God.  
  • Prioritize and be realistic:  Time and money are both hard to buy.  A wilderness resort may not be in the list of things you can afford.  Spend some time in your backyard.  Spend some time in a nearby park.  It is really easy to have a moment outdoors!  Ultimately, whatever you are doing, you are investing in your future and their future.

By finding an appreciation for being outdoors, within yourself, and passing it on to someone else...
 you've invested in the benefits that can last for generation after generation!