Getting Outdoors

Firsts and Lasts…

It is pretty poignant that my first ‘Outdoors Lady ‘ blog entry should be about the end ( for now) of my free-lance Outdoors Lady work.

I have been lucky enough to land the ‘job of my dreams’ from March, working for The Kindling Trust, here in my home town of Stockport as Community Engagement Coordinator.

Working for yourself , can (also) be the ‘job of your dreams’ or as

Mark Twain famously said :

“ Find a job you enjoy doing and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

caught on children's fingers
Who can catch a drop of dew on their finger?

However the reality for me was that I found it hard; getting invoices paid at times, having multiple jobs, multiple invoices, lots of time chasing payments and keeping track in incoming and outgoings. In the end I have to have one day of the week just to sort my accounts out, no outside on that day!

Also I loved being in different situations and setting up outdoor experiences for different organisations but I often felt ineffective and a bit piecemeal . Staff have so much on their plates, in class, that they just do not have the time to come outside and ‘play’. Poor staff!

For quality ‘Outside Learning’ to happen it needs to be embedded at all levels in the school and happening all the time. Staff should be able to get outside and enjoying the benefits as well as the children and not an iPad or note-book to be seen.

This needs preparation, firstly to endure ‘basic needs’ are met. Participants need to be prepared for all weathers and if they cannot access the right clothing than, somehow, ‘right-clothing’ should be supplied. Group sizes should be kept small, no larger than 15 so that participants feel they have space and time and can be heard, not fighting for attention. Once the basic needs are met,then for ‘self-actualization’ to occur as in Maslow’s model groups need time to develop and that perhaps is the most expensive resource of all in Schools at present.

This is a massive financial resource implication, at a time when schools are fighting to afford, not just people to support children but also, basics like art materials and reading books.

I always felt very lucky that I was offered time to work in schools when I know budgets are tight.

I am hoping that being in one place for the next few years will allow me to develop a rich environment that is therapeutic for all who can come and take part in activities there.

Being in one place will take me from feeling like I am constantly on the starting block  for a sprint to tucking in for the long distance haul.

I will be in the same gardens daily instead of weekly and small moments in Nature so easily missed when visits are infrequent will be enjoyed and celebrated. No fear the ‘Outdoors Lady’ will still be here.

Practically plants will be nurtured into full growth by regular monitoring, (one school garden only thrived due to the diligent support of the site manager ensuring the children had access to watering cans all week). This is such an important metaphor for groups working outside in Nature, self-care and developing healthy living habits are a natural outcome from activities outside within the dynamic, living environs.

Getting out into in Nature is so important for our wellbeing that maybe we as a ‘nation’ need to coin a word for it, like the Japanese did in the 1980’s.

Faced with a declining visitorship of the National Parks and Gardens and scientific research proving being outside improved health,  The Forest Agency of Japan came up with the term ‘shinrin-yoku’ literally ‘forest-bathing’ to encourage the population to take regular walks in specially designated forests.

So further suggestions in the comments below but as a Northerner I fancy a “Gallivant” To gallivant means to roam or to set off on an expedition with the sole intention of having some lighthearted fun. Interestingly ‘Gallant’ means  brave courageous or valiant so ‘gallivanting’ can be seen as a carefree but brave and confident act.

So rest assured I am still going to be gallivanting outdoors, ticking off my ‘five ways to wellbeing’ by being active in Nature and reporting back as The Outdoors Lady.

Gallivanting on a snowy day in Lyme Park , I  look cold, bare moor and the Cage in the distance
Gallivanting on a snowy day in Lyme Park ,

Until next time…

#outdoors #fivewaystowellbeing #teaching #forestschool #schoolgardening #makingachange #shinrinyoku #seektheoutdoors #optoutside #forestbathing #playbasedlearning #plantsasmetaphor #planttherapy