'Nature-ful' a term that came to my mind in reference to my Forest Therapy experiences. As opposed to saying, “I had such a beautiful time or such a blissful experience”, Nature-ful, for me, is a vast term that encompasses the bountiful gifts and healing, BE-ing in the forest atmosphere provides. Forest Therapy reignites and or strengthens the love and connection with Nature that lives in all of us. I believe more people need to have Nature-ful experiences.......Nature-ful connections with our blessed land. Return to our roots, reconnect with Mother Earth and thus ourselves.
Julia was blessed to grow up running in wheat fields and frolicking in the forest. It was just part of her day naturally, being out and enjoying whatever the more than human world wanted to share.
Even as a teen she’d escape to Nature whenever she could. Small town parties were held in the bush, weekends spent on the sandy beaches of the little smoky river, so many nights sitting on a tailgate watching the northern lights dance at 3am!
When you’re living a rural life often Nature is part of your everyday existence and you don’t even know what you have until it’s gone.
Julia attended college at NAIT in Edmonton from 2002-2005. She lasted 6 months downtown just off Jasper Avenue. The constant street noise like a drumming in her head was something she could just never get used to. Three years in a big city and she acquired not only a diploma in Power Engineering but also for the first time in her life a nature deficit.
As with many ailments it set in slowly, quietly, not announcing itself right away but yet looking back she felt it. She even identified it at the end of her summer practicum work in 2004. She distinctly remembers driving north on highway 2, one car among many in the incessant busy traffic of the double lane highway…
“I just felt off, kind of sad and I didn’t know why. I was nearing the end of my Summer practicum at the Balzac Power Plant and my bank account was healthier than it had ever been but I didn’t feel so great. I remember reasoning with myself… ‘I’ve got one of the best paying practicum jobs of the whole class, it’s a pretty clean, good job where I’m learning a lot and the people I work with are great. I’ve got some money in the bank and I’m well on my way to achieving the career I set out to have when I started at NAIT. I should be happy… what am I missing??’ I actually said it out loud… ‘What am I missing?’ and then a voice in my head whispered, ‘You haven’t gone Camping this summer’ … then a rush of beautiful summer memories started playing in my head, one after the other, a rolling video of happy moments outside with loved ones. Sadness set in as my brain started reasoning that I had missed a whole summer of my life. Anxiousness and urgency came next, as I tried to find room on the calendar in my head to get some kind of summer getaway before the always-too-short Alberta summer ended. I don’t remember what, if anything, I did end up doing that summer. I do remember from there then on, that my stress and anxiety level had increased.
I spent a good part of the next 5 years concentrating on things that I thought were important… With every step I took towards “adulthood” I was stepping away from a lot of what served my soul, and essentially I was losing myself in the process.
Looking back on this now, it just seems so ironic and kind of comical. I grew up and spent so much of my early adult life being hell bent on having “my shit together” which I definitely did accomplish on paper, however on the inside my shit had never been less together.”
Luckily for me this is where my husband walked into my life. He was passionate about his past times and loved outdoor adventure. What’s better than Camping? Camping with the love of your life who also happens to be incredibly handy and innovative with outdoor adventures! We camped, we hiked, we river floated and when we weren’t working, we were almost always out on some sort of outdoor adventure. I lapped up every minute of our outdoor fun, as I bloomed and flourished as a person.
10 years and 2 daughters later, we had become “busy” and often the days didn’t have as many hours, as I had work to do. But we’d find a way to make the time, schedule the time and make sure we took the time to be outside, connecting with all that makes us feel alive.
I’m grateful that my husband has never lost sight of the importance of Nature in our lives. His passion for the outdoors is what initiated the whole crazy “Let’s buy a fishing resort” adventure, and what has brought us to this beautiful nature-ful community we get to call home.
Every step we take that brings us closer to nature brings more peace, joy and fulfillment into our lives. My wise old husband has probably always known this and doesn’t forget it, but over the past 9 or so years I needed him to remind me of this, and I’m grateful he kept the connection going for me when I wasn’t always honouring it.
Now, as a certified Forest Therapy Guide, I understand and appreciate the importance of Nature Connection in my life, as well as in my loved one's lives. It’s a practice and as with many other practices, the more you do it and experience the benefits, the more you want to do it. Then it just magically kind of becomes a part of your life.
As humankind we have increasingly stepped away from Nature and isolated ourselves in cities and buildings, surrounded by concrete and a “Natural landscape” that fits into a developers plan to get the most units out of the square footage he/she has to work with.
Ancient ancestors in every culture throughout the world have been connected with the land, living a symbiotic existence with Mother Nature and what she has to offer. These ancestors were able to connect with Mother Nature and benefit from her offerings in so many more ways than most people nowadays even realize.
I believe we are at a pivotal time in this world we know, and a movement towards Nature-ful Connections between all beings can bring forth some much needed healing for us and Mother Earth. It’s a synergistic relationship, always has been, and always will be and the more we connect as a society and individually to her, the more we all strive!
She calls me
When the days are long and she knows I’m tired she calls me, quite urgently.
I hear her instantly and have learned I must always listen.
When life was noisier than it ever had been
When I wasn’t sure how I could keep going this way
When it felt like there was no place of being that could offer relief
She had always been there of course & that knowing comes back fast, like it was never really gone.
The seed of a dream grew into a goal
An immersion of peace & love, sinking into an old familiar role.
I feel a force within, like she’s my super vitamin
Grounded in her support when I was damn near lost in the wind.
My roots now sinking in to the unlimited embrace.
Feel her pace, step out of the race
Into her rhythm, open & receiving.
Muting my mind to hear my own voice.
A sacred connection that is my sustenance forever grateful, always growing.
She holds the space for all to bloom
Create more places to share, slow down & be aware
~ Julia Bonnamour