Almost a year on from meeting the inspirational Martyn Reah my thoughts once again are drawn back the #teacher5aday movement.
This year has been a crazy time for me with both my wedding and the culmination of my John Muir Conserver Award – the “end” of my @wild_every_day year. Anyone who has been involved with the organisation and preparation of a wedding knows that it is an all-encompassing task that will fill any moment you allow it to. Not easy when “spare” time was already full of going wild.
Somehow they all blended together. The #wildtime helped with the stress and nature seeped into the whole design of the wedding. At every turn we attempted to be less wasteful: for example… Saving money, time and paper on digital invitations; growing our own floral arrangements in pots, now adorning my garden in a lasting display; and using quite a lot of felled birch logs for the decorations – very useful knowing a man with a chainsaw! The result – a magical, sparkly, woodland wedding that didn’t compromise my green values.
At the end of May I completed my John Muir Conserver Award and was thrilled to receive a lovely email from John Muir’s great-great-grandson. But… what to do next? #Wildtime was thoroughly engrained in my lifestyle and a valuable part of keeping my life in balance. Days snuck by as I carried on with my wild every day, posting to facebook about my adventures and sharing the stories. I was hooked… not just on #wildtime but on social media. Not so good. I’d set out to go outside and ended up shackled back to the computer and smartphone. What had started out as a desire to share was being ruined by “views”, “likes” and “hits”. What did it take to write a post that people liked? What did I have to show and say to give these mysterious followers what they wanted?
Realising that I had a problem was stage one. Doing something about it took a lot longer. I muddled on through to September wondering what to do and then suddenly decided that I would go AWOL!! Gasp!!
Our honeymoon took us to Canada and the stunning Rockies. If anything is going to put everything in perspective it is these awesome mountains! The sheer scale of the landscape and the depth of time that shaped it makes everything else seem hugely insignificant. I thought about John Muir and his adventures that lead him to conclude that these mountains were shaped by glaciers. Seeing the remaining glaciers melting at an ever increasing rate set the thoughts racing, the imagination running wild, time travelling back to the point where these unimaginably huge valleys were filled with ice!
Despite the amazing adventures unfolding every day I disconnected from the internet and all social media. I enjoyed the landscape and wildlife with my husband and was simply “present” for the moment. It felt so good.
Returning to life and work was a bit of a bump but the break and the time to reflect steered me back in the right direction to maintaining my own well-being. My Wild Every Day facebook page has evolved: I now share the writing of posts with 2 more editors and the page is open for visitors to post their own stories and pictures. It took a long time to rationalise for myself that I wasn’t being untrue. I am still wild every day. I take the time to #notice and appreciate the wild things around me wherever I am. I #care about the environment through my lifestyle choices and my actions. I enable my curiosity to #discover new places. I just don’t blog about it every day.
Letting other people post and widening the scope of the page it has actually improved the participation! Not that I’m looking at the stats! Not in the same way at least… in a healthier passing note of curiosity rather than obsession. After social media training from @Saydigital in our recent Our South Downs Network meeting I have also taken to using Hootsuite to filter all of the social media streams to show me only the hashtags I have chosen. This has saved me from mindless scrolling that sneakily wastes precious time. It also brought the #teacher5aday conversations back into my feeds – I’ve not seen them for months despite following all the right people!
So this is me, checking back in and making new #teacher5aday goals…
#connect – Manage social media time to work for me not against me. Attend a TM in the area and meet new people.
#exercise – Go out for a run twice a week: initial goal is to run the 1 mile “triangle walk”.
#learn – Find out identification points, information and facts about a different plant or creature each week to keep skills up to date and extend them further.
#volunteer – Si wants to get more photographs on display to personalise our home, I find sorting through photos very tedious. I’m going to make an effort to volunteer to work on this.
#notice – Just “listen” in every conversation: hear what is being said without thinking of other things, formulating an answer, working out what I want for lunch, or any other distracting thoughts.
I thought I’d leave you with one of the last poems I wrote during my John Muir Award. It resounds with every fibre of my being and I should read it to myself more often. I hope you like it.
Go softly, through sun beams and dappled shade
Tread lightly, on fragrant turf and woodland ride
Breathe deeply, of damp earth and fresh clean air
Think clearly, in tranquil fields and peaceful dell
Listen longer, to birds sweet song and leaves on the breeze
Live fully, with nature in your heart and wild in your soul.
Hannah Chivrall (nee Norton)