#teacher5aday – Hannah Norton – @Wild_Every_Day

I’m a Teacher:  constantly busy, desperately seeking to make the best of all opportunities and battling against the clock to perfect everything. Does this sound familiar? Are you always taking care of those around you? When was the last time you took care of yourself?


It wasn’t until a fall stopped me in my tracks – literally – that I turned my naturally reflective outlook on myself. Suddenly I couldn’t dash about busily doing “things”, I couldn’t even walk, and it rocked me to the core. My life had become so entangled with my work that my sense of self, that delicate balance, had been subsumed by trying to make everyone else happy.

In my long road to recovering my mobility I also built a stronger foundation for a healthy work-life balance where I have space to develop as a person, a fiancé, a daughter and a sister too. Looking back I saw that despite working for a National Park I wasn’t spending very much time outside! Some days went by without leaving my desk – not even at lunch time. Ridiculous! Kicking myself into shape I decided to embark on a challenge… to get outside, to be wild every day.

I’ve been an advocate of the John Muir Award for many years now and I take every opportunity to invite others to join in. John Muir was the founding father of modern ecology and conservation. He was influential in the creation of National Parks. Curious? Take a look at the resources on our website. The flexible nature of the award enabled me to structure my Conserver level award around my wild every day challenge. I took the time requirement for the top-level John Muir Award and split it over an entire year – 23 minutes a day outside discovering, exploring, conserving and sharing. Following in Muir’s footsteps to care for wild places.

I decided that the 23 minutes were a minimum. Any extra time could not be “banked” and carried over into another day. Each day was a new day with new challenges and opportunities. As John Tomsett said in a previous post – ‘teacher’s need to pursue exciting things to nourish their lives’. I couldn’t agree more.

In the first 6 months of the award I spent 18736 minutes completing the 4 challenges, that’s 312 hours or 41.6 (7.5 hour) days!!! I’ve been to 108 different locations including 8 National Parks in Europe. I have some regular haunts that I revisit to see the changes.

I have to admit to being an avid litter picker, there is something quite calming about cleaning up a woodland, I pretty much carry a bag and grabber on every venture. I’ve also… built a hedgehog box from leftover materials, cut birch to make faggots for pond restoration, uploaded 2500 wild photos, written poems that just spilled out of my head, gone on night walks, helped other people to open their eyes and join in, watched the ebb and flow of the tide, hunted for fossils, picked up rocks to discover hidden geology, freed a mouse from the house, rode my bike through pitch black old railway tunnels, composed a sea song, sown a wildflower meadow in the garden, read about John Muir’s love of trees (especially big ones), completed a rubbish reduction challenge, chased the sunset, scrumped plums to make wine, calculated the speed of ants…  and so much more…

You can see more of my adventures at https://www.facebook.com/wildeveryday –  no need to  join fb, you can look without signing in. Please do feel free to comment and share your adventures too.

I’m glad that I’ve got this challenge in my life and don’t mind that it’s working out at a lot more time than is really required. It’s great fun and I’ve found that I notice so much more by taking the time to slow down and see the wild things all around me every day.

I won’t pretend that some days haven’t been hard. They have. Yet every single time I stepped outside, put down whatever was ‘filling my time’, and took a deep breath… I felt better.

Some ideas to try today

  • Go outside at lunchtime – it’s your break time too! STOP, go out, make an effort to notice the sounds and smells of the wildlife #lunchstop
  • Had a bad day? – stop off on the way home and take a walk in a park or woodland. Make this a regular part of your going home routine to wash the day’s madness out of your mind before you get home #wildheadspace
  • Find a geocache – challenge yourself to find one of the millions of secret treasures around the country, you never know what you might discover in your own neighbourhood #treasurehunt
  • Urgent items need discussing – meet on your feet, walk and talk with a colleague on a thinking walk #thinkingwalk

Still stuck for ideas? How about trying Mission Explore for ample mad ideas… there’s even a set of John Muir missions.

Dedicate some time to yourself… could you achieve the John Muir Award and meet the challenges to discover, explore, conserve and share a wild place?

Email me via JohnMuirAward@southdowns.gov.uk and I’ll be more than happy to help.

Please take care of yourself and have a great 2015.

Hannah aka @wildeveryday


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