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Celebrating the Night

It’s Halloween!  Officially one of my favorite nights of the year. Tonight, millions of children will walk out their doors dressed in all sorts of creative costumes including Star Wars characters, Drew’s minions, and adorable cuddly animals. Some will walk alone, some with their parents, and some will walk in gangs of teenagers. In my neighborhood parents have almost as much fun as the kids—we socialize in the streets as our kids run up to the front doors of each lit-up porch, we celebrate the few adults who put on costumes to join in the fun, and we occasionally steal candy from our children’s stashes as we offer to hold their heavy loads. I love seeing the final decorative outfit unveilings of our neighbors adorned with proud smiles that represent the hard work of the kids (and moms or dads who helped.)  My husband, who hasn’t touched a sewing machine since high school, has spent about forty hours creating three 2013 costumes on a borrowed machine. He wears the Halloween hat in our family—thank goodness, and this year he’s truly hit it out of the park. I’m a miserable failure when it comes to costumes. Tonight, many of the passing turtles, Spider-Men, and cowgirls, many of whom I’ve known since the day they were born, will take a pause to say hello and show of their outfits. Even the big kids will flaunt their wear. I get a kick out of these gaggles of teenagers. I’ve caught them celebrating when I give out miniature containers of Play-Doh instead of candy, “Yes! Play-Doh!” and I’ve seen them watch out for little kids on steep staircases or even on cracked sidewalks.  It’s a joy I tell you—the whole darn thing.

Throughout the last two years of doing my 365 Every Day Outside Challenge many of my 30ish minute outings happened just the way many of us will head out tonight—after dark under street lights.  Sometimes my kids join me, waving flashlights around, and occasionally turning them off to test the darkness.  More often than not I’d go alone, after the kids were tucked into bed.  These solo nighttime walks are often magical.  My senses are heightened and the quiet is precious.  These outings often follow days filled with indoor responsibilities and too much sitting in front of my computer. The first deep breath of fresh air doesn’t always happen right away, sometimes I’m halfway through my walk before the tension fades enough to allow my diaphragm to expand thoroughly. Finally relaxing, breathing deeply, and rapidly moving my body contribute to the heightened sense of joy I carry back inside with me.

Maybe, my decades of enjoying Halloween—chilly nighttime walks with friends have been trying to tell me something.  Connecting to the natural world is not just a daytime thing. Taking time to enjoy the stars, the moon, and the way cumulous clouds are backlit by the light reflecting off the moon throughout all seasons is something to treasure. I hope you all enjoy your Halloween evening and if you don’t get outside tonight, I hope you’ll consider adding regular nighttime walks to heighten your connection to each season.

What we Hide

I’m preparing to present at the Pecha Kucha Event in Portland at SPACE Gallery tomorrow night. Basically eight thoughtful, creative, energetic, and passionate Maine folks will share the cool stuff they’ve done or are doing with 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. Exactly 6 minutes and 40 seconds to share a project, art, poetry, photography, or a passion. I’ll be sharing what I do here in this blog and the 365 Every Day Outside Challenge.

I had what I thought was  a pretty tight presentation and shared it with my husband. As you probably guessed almost all of my photos are outside, in fact nineteen of the twenty slides are outdoor ones.  All beautifully capturing Maine and happy moments for my family. After smiling through the whole thing, Hans’s advice was to share the hard stuff too… to show the messy desk, the kitchen with overflowing dishes and windows that needed to be cleaned a year ago (maybe two), to show the night time walk at 11pm because I couldn’t get out until then. It was great advice–I will speak about being busy but I also need to show this in at least one of my slides.

Is there such a thing as a parent who can keep up with everything?  Even stay at-home parents never get it all done when they want to.  Maybe people who can afford to hire a lot of help can keep up but there’s always more homework, papers to sort through, mail to respond to, art projects that were not cleaned up, Lego everywhere, and dirt and dust and grime. So Hans took this photo of what my desk looked like right then and I took a few photos of what my kitchen looked like at that very moment.

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I’m pretty embarrassed by these photos… I’d cringe if a friend or neighbor walked into my home looking like this. I desire a picture perfect home but raising kids is messy work. Here’s the thing, we do have moments of neat and tidy but I can’t keep up. I’m guessing I’m not alone in this. I could have photographed a few neater corners, but if we only share with the world the tidy moments then it just adds to the shame I (we?) feel when someone sees what we’re trying to hide. None of us live in the pages of a Pottery Barn catalog or Better Homes and Gardens and even if our homes are shared in those pages, the photos are taken after days of cleaning and the things we live with on the counters are hidden in storage.

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Yesterday, I could have cleaned the kitchen instead of taking a few minutes to play backgammon with my son on the front porch in the warm sunshine as he recovers from strep throat.  I could have stayed up late cleaning instead of going to bed early to try and stave off strep which I always get when I’m exposed to it.  I could have scrubbed for those few minutes before work instead of taking my daughter’s hand when she wanted me to watch her “new tricks” on the monkey bars before going to school. I could have and maybe I should have but the choices we make in those small decisive moments define our lives.

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My kids probably won’t remember the mess when they’re adults, but they will remember playing games on the porch on a sick day and they’ll remember how wonderful it feels to be outside on a chilly fall  morning before school. Nobody has asked how I get it all done, or even how I find time to get outside every day, but I think it is important to share that the choices I make make it possible. I also will argue that the outdoor time energizes me to get more done inside… but that’s another blog entry.

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Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow night. Please say hello if you’re there!

I Returned the Cart

I am a Type A person. I’m a control freak but capable of getting a lot of shit done in a short period of time.  To get that stuff done, I’m constantly thinking and planning and multitasking in order to be as efficient as possible. This morning, after a stress and tearful kid drop off at school, I headed over to Whole Foods in order to buy some alfalfa and wheat seeds for two upcoming workshops that I’m prepping for. As I drove I thought of the things I needed to do to get ready for the workshops next week as well as the one I’m teaching on Friday here in Portland, and I also thought of the things I needed for my family while at the store, and how to juggle the other stuff on my very full plate.

I parked at the far end of the lot, shopped fast, and got out of there in under $75 and 15 minutes.  Not bad.  I pushed the cart back to my car at the far end of the lot, unloaded my bags, and looked around for the classic Hannaford–midlot cart drop off. There wasn’t one. I heaved out one deep and frustrated sigh and considered leaving my cart right where I was.  I took a deep breath in and decided to be a good girl and return the cart to the front entrance. After approximately six steps I looked up at the gorgeous blue sky with sprinkled fair-weather clouds throughout, I felt the perfect Maine fall temperature and realized how ridiculous I was being. These few outdoor minutes across the parking lot were mine.  I could choose to enjoy them or to not. I could choose to breathe deeply or shallowly.  I could choose to keep my face in a scowl, continue to think of all the things I needed to do, continue to look down instead of up, and I could continue to feel frustrated.

I chose to relax my face. I chose to breathe deeply. I chose to not think. I chose to enjoy my two and a half minute walk across the parking lot while I looked up at the utterly beautiful Maine sky.  When I got back in my car, I rolled down my windows, continued to breathe deeply, and kept connecting with all the little things that make me more peaceful inside of this type A body and mind.

Those few short minutes outside affect my well being. When I’m fully present in any outdoor setting, even if it truly is only a few minutes here and a few there, I am happier and healthier and less grouchy and less controlling. I’m already looking forward to a walk outside later today–after all, two and a half minutes to and from the car wouldn’t be enough for the 365 Everyday Outside Challenge–but, they were enough to make a difference in that moment.

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Creating a Little Outdoor Haven Right at Home

I dream of renovating the entire outdoor space at our Portland, Maine home. I imagine a designer set of extremely comfortable patio furniture with black foundations, teal-colored cushions, and throw pillows with vibrantly colored red lobsters stenciled on. This fancy stuff will be housed under the new roof covering our private back deck and will look out upon a neatly landscaped patio and yard beyond. The lawn will always be perfectly mowed and the weeds will be regularly plucked by my landscape artist Bernard. He will work his green thumb all inside of my fertile yard, tanned and muscular back glistening in the hot summer sun. After an afternoon “helping” Bernard, my husband and I will cook in our outdoor kitchen while drinking jalapeno-infused margaritas with friends. On hotter days we’ll have catered parties with passed hors d’oeuvres and a party-specific cocktail.

… Ah, to dream. This dream will likely stay a dream for another decade or so. I married a composer after all and I’m an educator and the reality is we just don’t have the cash to make things like this happen. I will continue flipping through the pages of The Best of Fine Gardening: Outdoor Ideas & Solutions magazine or Pottery Barn catalogs and longing for fancy things.

But I can still make things nice with what I have. So, let me tell you a little backstory about how I was inspired to create a cozy outdoor space in my own yard on a tight budget.

Several years ago we bid on a one a week’s stay at a vacation home Down East. It was donated to a school auction and for a few hundred dollars we stole it. Located in Castine, Maine, the house was set back from the Bagaduce River by a quarter mile walk down a charming wooded path. The smell on that Down East trek through a forest to the water’s edge is uniquely intoxicating. The mix of salt, moss, decomposing downed trees, and new growth blend together into a distinct aroma that is heavenly. The treasured path led to weathered chunks of granite lining the rustic beach, including one flat boulder that was large enough to have a picnic on. The rugged beach wasn’t appropriate for swimming but did hold many delightful discoveries—special smooth rocks, tide pools to explore, and perfect shells.

Even though the walk to the water was short, and we relished our trips down to the beach, we still spent vast amounts of time sitting on the screened porch with no water view at all. Maybe it was because my kids were young but sitting on that porch was my favorite part of that vacation. We ate dinner at a plastic table, we drank our morning coffee in the rocking chairs, we set up worlds with the set of Playmobile toys on the weathered wood floor, and Hans and I challenged each other to games of Rummy night after night by candlelight. The screened-in porch was approximately six-feet wide and about 30-feet long and looked out over a lawn that sloped down to the woods which shielded the view of the water. People who know me well, know that I love being close to the water but this trip made it clear to me that I also love the simple pleasure of sitting outside on a porch, especially porches with rocking chairs.

When we returned home, fully rested and recharged, I looked at my own front porch and knew that I could make some changes to create a place I wanted to spend more time. I moved the recycling bin back to the garage, cleaned the junk that had accumulated through the winter and spring, and scrubbed the walls, railings, and floor.

I couldn’t afford to buy a fancy set of outdoor furniture or even to buy a simple rocking chair so I went “shopping” in my basement. I swept the cobwebs aside and went down to see what could be used. I was delighted to rediscover a rocking chair I sat in while nursing my son all those years ago and an orphaned foot stool.

Now mind you, the rocking chair and its cushion were indoor items.  I repurposed them as outdoor furniture and trusted that the roof on the porch would protect them from most weather conditions. I didn’t find a table so I purchased a simple folding teak table for $15 at The Christmas Tree Shop.

This porch renovation brought some vacation-like evenings to workdays. Hans and I could continue to drink wine while playing Rummy by candlelight. Delightful!

Recently the porch has slipped back into chaos. Someone put the recycling bin there again, the bucket of ice melt remained even though winter is long gone, and kids’ clutter has spewed outside after taking over the inside of our home. Last weekend I decided to clean it. My daughter who couldn’t find a friend to play with was easily convinced to help me scrub the furniture. Bubbles, warm water, and hoses equal great fun after all! We cleared the porch completely, scrubbed away the pollen, and rinsed away the dirt. We swept the leaves and dust and even scrubbed the walls that somehow get really dirty. We put away the stuff that didn’t belong and placed back the things that did. Here are some before, during, and after shots. Two neighborhood boys joined in the fun. The Tom Sawyer effect totally worked.  Although they weren’t scrubbing for a reward, I treated them to popsicles to celebrate their efforts.

I spend most of my time at home, and I can’t get away to beautiful outdoor spots as much as I would like. I work here. And on the weekends or during vacation it’s next to impossible to pull my composer husband out of his studio. So if I want to maximize my outdoor time (and I do), I need to make my home the most desirable outdoor spot around. Making my outdoor spaces as comfortable as possible on a limited budget is worth every cent of effort I put into it.

I’m still not going to stop dreaming about what I want to buy… but until then, this is quite satisfactory.

Before:

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After:

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Time to go out and enjoy another cup of coffee in my rocking chair that is as strong today as it was when I lovingly nursed my son in it.  And just maybe, get in another candle lit evening game of Rummy with my sweet husband before it gets too cold.

Easiest Birthday Party Ever: A Day at Aquaboggin

My son just turned nine and we celebrated with the easiest birthday party we’ve ever given. We spent the day at Aquaboggan, a water park about 20 minutes from our house in Saco, Maine with a small group of kids. It was great fun for the kids and adults and quite affordable because we only invited a few kids.

Every year my husband and I plan a big birthday party and invite lots of kids in order to be inclusive.  We’ve had Bay Blade parties with multiple stations for “spin offs” where each kid was given a Bay Blade; Harry Potter birthday parties with Quidditch and potions; and water play parties with slip and slides, sprinklers, and a kiddie pool. In addition to lots of kids converging on our yard, their parents come too. The parties are always great fun but also a strain to plan and even though they’re at home, they tend to be expensive. This year we did it differently.

My son invited one cousin (who happened to be in the neighborhood), two friends, and of course his sister got to come.  The final count was five kids and four adults.  The park offers a discounted birthday rate for parties of at least 8 ($15 per person) and the birthday child gets in for free.  They reserve a picnic table under a pavillion for the group and will even keep your cake in the fridge until you’re ready to serve it (of course, you have to remember the cake in order to serve it at the park…). They allow you to bring your own food and drink. We packed a cooler of sandwiches, some cut up watermelon, chips, and lemonade.  The only thing I spent money on after the admission fee was to rent a locker for $5 to keep my camera, phones, and wallets in.  Our neighbor rented a double tube for going down some slides with his son.

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I love that the park is relatively clean, that it doesn’t feel crowded, that you don’t have to wait in lines for rides, and that you are surrounded by trees. Our favorite part is the dome (for kids only) followed by the wave pool. Although we did try the slides, most of the kids weren’t interested in spending a lot of time on them. The only thing I would improve is to add more trees throughout the park so that there are more shady spots. Most of my family did get a sun burn somewhere on our bodies. We should have reapplied sunscreen but water parks are tricky for keeping sunscreen on.

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I thought the group size was perfect and I was glad to have four adults so we could divide up and go to different parts of the park throughout the day.

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A very happy and memorable birthday party for sure. Let’s do it again next year!

 

Everyday Outside Wins Down East Magazine’s “Best of Maine Readers’ Choice Award”

It is with great pride that I share with you that in the July issue of Down East Magazine, Everyday Outside was announced the winner of the Readers’ Choice Award for Best Blog. Readers of Down East (and maybe just a few of my friends 😉 ) voted for me and we won!  This is the fifth year that Down East has been giving these awards but this was the  first year that they threw a party for the award winners. And boy do they know how to throw a party! We celebrated at the Portland Club downtown on June 27 with food and beverages served by Black Tie Company. The food and service were exemplary. I wondered if the mini lobster roll that I was served was made by the winners of “The Best Maine Lobster Roll” because it was so good, but I was told that the event caterers made them.  Maybe next year Black Tie Company will win the best roll–it’s that good! The food was simply amazing and everything that you could possibly want when celebrating in our great state. A raw bar with unlimited oysters, lobster rolls, fried crab rolls, and a dessert table that included miniature whoopie pies that were dipped in chocolate. They were really quite tiny, as far as whoopie pies go, and my goodness were they yummy. I may never eat another chocolate dipped whoopie… so I ate another and another and another.

Upon arrival we were given a name tag, our award, and a goody bag. I posed for a photo with Paul Doiron, the editor-in-cheif of the magazine and I kind of missed my opportunity to talk about my blog.  If I hadn’t been so nervous I would have said, “We should talk. Coffee?”  Even now I don’t really  know what I should have said… How about, “Let’s work together to get more people outside on a more regular basis!” It was kind of cool to have a professional photo taken with the fancy backdrop like those seen at awards shows.  I felt like this was just one of the many details that demonstrate how the event planners thought of everything.  DE_BESTofMAINE-209

The awardees in the room were as diverse as our great state.  The Readers’ Choice for best boat builder was The Hinckley Company; for best print columnist the great Bill Nemitz, who writes for the Portland Press Herald and the Maine Sunday Telegram; and best bargain store was Renys–an institution almost as popular as L.L. Bean, the winner of best outdoor store and sporting goods store.  We all mingled about not really knowing who else was in the room.  I found out after the event that Liz Pride, the author of Your LL Bean Boyfriend was an awardee. The editor of Down East whispered to her that he was wearing an L.L. Bean suit…   You can read her account of the evening here.

As a parent and a hard-working momma, I rarely get to indulge in such a special evening with such great food and unlimited drinks.  Thanks Down East for this memorable evening and the recognition. I will certainly hang my award with great pride in my office.

If you were one of the readers who voted for me, I thank you.  I hope I can continue to entertain you with my narratives of simple outings and musings about the benefits of getting outside on a regular basis for years to come. My ultimate goal is to highlight that just stepping out the back door helps fuel a nature connection that can completely transform one’s outlook on life. Happy summer and many wonderful outings to all of you.

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2013 Everyday Outside Report

A friend of mine just celebrated his 50th with a surprise birthday cookout.  It was a fabulous outdoor party with a delicious assortment of potluck offerings, frisbees and soccer balls flying all over, good beer, and grand company. It didn’t rain, it sprinkled throughout the party, and our rugged Maine friends weathered the temporary increase in moisture. The birthday boy and I had a few minutes together and he asked me, “Are you still doing your outdoor thing?” I replied that I was. He then asked, “How many days in a row have you gone outside?” I didn’t know the answer to the question but replied that I’ve gone out all but one day in 2013.

It’s hard to believe it is July–the half-way point of our calendar year.  I blinked, and June disappeared.  My life feels like I’m in one of those Looney Toon cartoons where the calendar days flip by to show that time is passing.  I feel like my days and months are moving by that quickly. I can’t keep up with turning the pages of my calendar–the months just keep flipping off one by one.

June is in the past and we’re half way through 2013. Seems like a perfect time to check in and report on my status for the 365 Everyday Outside Challenge. I’ve gone outside for 181 days this year for at least 30 minutes.  Most of my outings were much longer–but all of them were for at least 30 minutes. Back in March there was one day that I was probably only outside for 20 minutes so that was my one missed day. For comparison’s sake, in 2012 I went outside for all but 8 days. I’m proud of the improvement and attribute it to the fact that regular outdoor time (and keeping track of it on busy days) is a habit for me now.

On a related note we’ve welcomed a few new people to the 365 Everyday Outside Challenge in the last few days and have many who’ve been doing it since the beginning of the year. I’d love to hear how you’re doing and how it is going.  Please drop a note in the comments section and share how it is going.

Wishing you all wonderful outings filled with mother nature’s surprises.  Below are some photos of a special walk at the Falmouth Audubon with my family and two cousins. We unexpectedly stumbled upon a field of peonies when walking in the woods. How delightful.

Happy summer!

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Rain, Rain, Stay Stay Stay

I love being outside in the rain.  I know, I know, you probably think I’m kidding–but I’m not.  I adore being in the woods and listening to the inconsistent sound of rain drops through the dense layering of various types of leaves. Time spent messing about in sailboats in the rain, rigging or racing them, especially during Maine summers is calming. When I exercise in the rain I often have the road to myself, paths are softer, and am able to keep myself cooler–plus, dodging puddles helps the time go by.

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The key, for me, is being dressed for the weather. When out for a walk or sailing in the rain I have my fowl weather gear on, proper footwear to keep my feet both warm and dry, and a baseball cap. The last Gill coastal foul weather coat I bought when teaching sailing lessons on the island of Vinalhaven lasted about 20 years. I replaced it with a  more up to date version when the last one started to leak.  Something like this:

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I would be impressed if this one lasts 20 years (nothing’s built to last the way things were once built) but I decided to spend more on a Gill because the quality and comfort help me enjoy the rain and I’m fairly confident it will last longer than its competitors. The fleece lined pockets are always appreciated when I’m walking or sailing. I know this is starting to sound like an advertisement but I assure you it isn’t.  I just really believe dressing properly helps one enjoy the conditions better.

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Hands down my favorite thing to do in a rainstorm is to sleep in a tent or on a sailboat.  As some of you might remember, I grew up camping all summer for many summers in NH. We didn’t go home when it rained but we would play in the tents, and occasionally my parents would break up the long wet stretches with a movie (who wouldn’t fall in love with getting to go see The Muppets), and of course, we’d sleep in our tents. The sound of the pitter patter on the tent or the tarp above the tent would lull me to sleep in the most peaceful of ways.  Now, when it rains, I keep my bedroom window open, with hopes of listening to those drops on the maple leaves outside my window before drifting off. It isn’t the same as being outside but it still is lovely.

raincoat 3Would I choose a rainy day over a sunny day?  Absolutely not.  But when the rainy days happen, I certainly don’t let them keep me inside.

 

Peaks Island Field Trip–My 40th Birthday Present

On May 30th, I turned 40. We celebrated early, with dancing and a birthday party, with friends and family, and with food and drink the weekend prior.  It was a lovely way to shift decades. But the best possible birthday celebration happened on my actual birthday. I was able to go on a field trip to Peaks Island with my daughter’s class. I couldn’t think of a better way to usher in another decade–a day spent on ferries, messing about with tide pools, humming to periwinkles to bring them out of their shells, building sandcastles, comparing various types of seaweed, eating lunch on a beach while observing seagulls and a pair of soaring osprey, and bringing 18 incredibly cute kindergarteners to an island off the coast of Portland.

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It is hard to believe that in a few weeks I’ll be done with kindergarten… I’m so grateful that I could shift my work responsibilities around to make it possible to go on this field trip. I’m even more grateful for wonderful teachers who bring the magic of the natural world into the hearts of children who may not otherwise find it.

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I’m so grateful that the first forty years of my life have brought me to where I am today. I know another ten will slip by in an instant.  My son will be graduating from high school and my daughter will be 16 when I turn 50.  I hope to go on as many field trips as they’ll allow in those ten years… these precious days go so quickly.

Is 30 Minutes Enough?

I have been thinking about a simple question for awhile now. In fact, as I successfully completed my 2012 challenge to get outside for at least thirty minutes every day, I wondered if thirty minutes of outdoor time was enough.  The question came with me on my walks and lingered well after I returned home.

I contemplated upping the challenge to go out for at least 60 minutes a day during 2013. Was 30 minutes of my day a tough enough challenge? Would I have more to write about and would it be more interesting to my readers if I went out longer? Is 1/48th of a day a sufficient amount of outdoor time? Most days 30 minutes is pretty easy to accomplish—what would 60 minutes feel like when the wind chill is well below zero or when I had a fever of 102?  Would 1/24 of a day be twice as good? Does the ratio of outdoor time to indoor time even matter? And what does it mean to be enough? What is the core goal here?

The concept reentered my thinking in February after I presented at the Portland Trails 2013 Annual Meeting. I presented what I’m doing here in this Everyday Outside blog and what the 365 Everyday Outside Challenge is. The format only allowed me to share the essence of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.

(You can watch the video here.  My introduction starts at 43:22 and my presentation starts with a little nervous laughter at 44:46.)

After the presentation my mother-in-law said, “It seems like such a simple thing to do… I must already go outside for at least 30 minutes. I walk to and from the car a lot.”  Then I could see her remember that the only thing I don’t count towards my outdoor time is walking to and from the car. Before I started the challenge, I too would have thought that I was outside for at least 30 minutes most days, but as I began to keep track of my minutes, I was shocked at how much more I was going outdoors than I had in the past. The goal of not missing more than one day a month pushed me to make a conscious effort, and that made all the difference.

There were many days when I would not have gone for a walk if it wasn’t for the challenge, nights when I was about to crawl into bed after 10:00, having just slipped on my cozy fleece pajamas only to remember that that I hadn’t gone outside. Without the challenge, I wouldn’t have bothered, but with it, I had just enough of a push to get me out of bed and out the back door with my pajamas on. In 2012 I went out that back door in the wee hours like that more times than I could count because I was counting.

After the presentation, my husband thought that my talk made the challenge sound easy, and he knows otherwise. In 2012, when I started this journey to get outside every day, I would absolutely agree, that it isn’t easy. But it is much easier now than it was for the first year. People say it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I gave myself a whole year, and it is now certainly a habit that will last a lifetime. So far in 2013 I’ve missed only one day.

This habit has made me noticeably happier. I’m pretty sure my happiness is directly proportional to how much outdoor time I get. Maybe it is in part because my indoor time is connected to work, responsibilities, cleaning, cooking, laundry, and stuff that I have to do and which I rarely feel on top of. Outdoor time almost always involves stuff I really want to do. Maybe I am happier because I am getting a sufficient amount of vitamin D or more exercise or fresh air. Or is it possible that my increased happiness level is a result of a deep, sustained, everyday connection with the natural world? I don’t think I’ll ever know exactly what is responsible for making me feel happier but I know that my outdoor time has contributed significantly. I also know that the key is at least 30 minutes.  Anything less than 30 minutes would not be enough because most days 30 minutes isn’t sufficient for my nature connection.

In part I’m keeping my challenge to 30 minutes because I really want others to join me, and for the challenge to be an attainable goal that others want to achieve. My dog walking family and friends go outside every day and between 20-40 people have said they’re taking the outdoor challenge this year. So lots of people are getting outside regularly, but I know that most aren’t. Most days I get outside for more than a half-hour, but there are days when it is all I can do to make those thirty precious minutes happen, and those are the days when I need that time the most.  On those days 30 minutes is enough.

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What do you think?  Is thirty minutes of daily outdoor time enough for you?