This week I celebrate my 40th birthday. While I’m still processing the gravity of this momentous occasion, I’m allowing myself to feel all the feelings that accompany such a milestone.
In a youth obsessed culture, it’s not surprising that grief was the first emotion to boil up from the depths; thankfully it was short-lived. Then came gratitude. I’m literally and figuratively at the top of a mountain. I have the greatest perspective of my entire life, thus far. I’m more “me” than I’ve ever been before. And for that, I am so incredibly thankful.
In the last three and a half years since I’ve discovered the practice of nature and forest therapy, my life has changed in the most wonderful ways. Nature has taught me to slow down. To savor every moment and each little treasure that life serves up. Nature has provided beautiful lessons about diversity, adversity and resilience. Most importantly, I’ve learned that nature is not separate from me, that we are one and the same. And by going outside, I’m actually going within.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.” -John Muir
By connecting more deeply to the natural world, I have strengthened my relationship with myself. I have love and compassion for myself. I have a greater sense of who I am and what I want to contribute to the world.
As I reflect on my triumphs and mistakes throughout the past four decades, I can’t help but contemplate the advice I might offer my younger self, and remind my future self: Be kind… to others and yourself. Be quiet. Be still. Magic happens in stillness and silence, when you quit talking and truly listen. Slow down. Let go. Let loose. Get lost. Love hard. And ALWAYS follow your heart.
Tree hugs and kisses,
About the Author
Kelly Bruce is a Certified Nature and Forest Therapy Guide/Trail Consultant and the founder of Natural Wanders. She leads forest bathing and nature therapy walks in the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains of Western North Carolina. Subscribe to her e-newsletter for more inspiration from nature and to learn about upcoming walks, workshops and retreats. Each Wednesday, she’ll provide inspiration to help you wander into wellness, naturally. In the meantime, follow along on Instagram and Facebook.
Photography by @zailaffitte.
Welcome! I'm Kelly Bruce, a certified nature and forest therapy guide. Read on for inspiration to help you improve your overall wellbeing, naturally!