baby fawn ordinary creative photoI just stepped off my paddle board and wrapped up 30×30 Nature Challenge!  Perhaps you did too?

It all started on May 4th during an ordinary conversation with a friend at work.  He described the 30×30 Nature Challenge in a simple sentence:  spend 30 minutes in nature for 30 days.  On the spot, with no details, I enthusiastically declared, I was all in. IMG_6853

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According to the founding organization, The David Suzuki Foundation, the challenge is simple: “to reconnect human beings with nature for the sake of their health and mental well-being.   A growing chorus of scientists and researchers agree: time spent in nature makes us happier, healthier and less stressed. It increases creativity and fosters empathy.”

I highly recommend embracing the challenge:  even if you start on the 4th day of the month, even if you simply plan to lay in a hammock or walk in your backyard.  The gifts are just outside your door and I will cheer you on.  Find out more on The David Suzuki Foundation website.

5 Things I Learned During the 30×30 Nature Challenge

1.) It is an achievable goal.   Even when the rain falls or the sun sets…. finding 30 minutes is an attainable goal.  Sometimes I found joy simply in creatively approaching the time challenge (star gazing? check; planting flowers? it counts!).

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2.) The hectic days ultimately delivered the biggest rewards.  During a three-day stretch I embarked on a solo road trip across 3 states (and back) to assist a family member with medical appointments.  In an uncharacteristic twist, I stopped and embraced nature along the way.  I ran through a trail at the Arboretum in Madison, Wisconsin and witnessed an amazing array of magnolia trees unfolding spring’s glory. magnolia 2016I ran on trails at the Hartman Reserve Nature Center in Waterloo, Iowa re-tracing steps I took during a 4th grade field  trip.  Later, I reconnected with a childhood friend during a long hike.  She took up the challenge and is now closing in on her 30-day goal (go, Julie go!)!

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I found spring unfurling its magic in Rochester, Minnesota. unfurl

3.) I noticed my reliance on technology is a distraction.  My phone dependence (ok, addiction is likely a more accurate assessment) ultimately interferes with truly being “present.”  I discovered I can successfully step away from my phone (and survive).  Challenge organizers say unplugging is one of the ground rules.  I interpreted that to mean no wifi; but I decided that snapshots were permitted. I justified my decision based on the lingering benefits of photographic evidence of nature’s magic.

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4.) Nature is sacred.  It provides abundant evidence that love is all there is.  I found hearts in new and unexpected places nearly every day.

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5.) Nature heals.  It shifts my perspective, ignites my sense of wonder and elevates my faith.  Blessed to witness the spring of 2016 with a new appreciation for nature’s splendor.

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Several theme songs emerged during the past 30 days.  Perhaps my favorite was “Be Still” by The Killers. “Annie’s Song” (by John Denver) just might be the best lyrical representation of this challenge.

“You fill up my senses
Like a night in a forest.
Like the mountains in springtime
Like a walk in the rain.
Like a storm in the desert
Like a sleepy blue ocean.
You fill up my senses
Come fill me again.”

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I will leave you with a song I discovered on the blog Poetic Aperture: “GRATEFUL: A Love Song to the World.”  Grateful indeed.

Did you participate in the challenge?  I would love to hear from you!