Mental health blog, Nature

My #OneNatureChallenge: Week three

Helloooo sunshine! Literally!! What a beautiful week we just had. At least in Southern Ontario, anyway. I had no problem fulfilling my #OneNatureChallenge quota and then some this week. It had precisely the effect I’ve been blogging about since the beginning of May. I feel happier, more relaxed, more connected, more myself. Which is amazing, given we’re in the middle of a global pandemic. Sorry, I didn’t mean to remind you. But, I did want to confirm that this connecting with nature thing seriously works. So, what are you waiting for?!

Check out what I’ve been up to this week for some inspiration.

Passing skills onto the next generation

Tina Cumby's daughter using an impact gun to put screws in the side of a square foot garden bed.
My garden helper

My daughter and I had a wonderful time working in the garden this week. I taught her how to use the power drill and impact gun. She used these new skills to put screws in each of our raised garden beds. Then, we tied some twine to them to create planting grids.

Tina Cumby's square foot garden with twine planting grid.
Planting grids

Sharing skills with others makes you feel good too. It helps you develop mastery of the skills you have and allows others to learn and grow with you. It teaches patience and humility. It encourages connection with others and increases bonding. Knowledge should be shared freely and generously. This is how we unplug from the machine, so to speak. It is the ultimate resistance in a culture that seeks to monetize everything from water to air and everything in between. 

What do you know that others don’t? How can you share it? Go sew those seeds and harvest the amazing benefits when they bloom all around you.

Tina Cumby posing with her three completed square foot gardens.
My beautiful gardens

Side note: If you aren’t familiar with square foot gardening yet, get into it. It seriously changed my life. As I mentioned in a previous post, I used to kill every green thing I touched. This gardening method gave me a green thumb and no one is more surprised than me. So, if you’re interested in gardening and you have no idea what you’re doing or you have limited planting space, get this book.

Enjoying the signs and sites of spring

An apple tree in full spring bloom with white flowers.
An apple tree in full bloom

My daughter and I also continued our tradition of walking at lunchtime this week. It was quite different from our walks last week, which were covered in snow. It seemed that, within 24 hours, everything suddenly came into bloom. Indeed, spring is in the air.

We took in all the beautiful sights every chance we got and we took some pictures to share with you too. Check them out!

A garden with shrubs, flowers, and ground cover and a field stone border.
A local garden that makes me happy
A shrub filled with small fuchsia flowers.
A gorgeous flowering shrub
A large maple tree with the sun peeking through the top branches.
An old maple tree

It’s not just stopping to smell the proverbial roses that’s good for you. Studies show that looking at the literal roses (and nature in general) has a positive impact on our physical and mental health as well, including reducing stress and improving mood. So, take a moment to take it all in the next time you’re outside. I think you’ll be glad you did.

Working outside

Tina Cumby working outside with a laptop in her lap and the sun shining overhead.
An outdoor office

Since I’m stuck working at home for the time being, I decided to make the outdoors my new office. I rolled my work chair onto the deck, grabbed another chair to kick my legs up onto, threw a pillow on my lap, and placed a small table to my right (complete with coffee, of course). Add a laptop and, voilĂ : A makeshift outdoor work station.

I loved this decision. I got to develop my annual professional development plan to the soundtrack of birds and bees and the sights of a freshly bloomed apple tree. This is a far cry from the interrogation lights, weird buzzing noises, and year-round deep-freeze temperatures of the modern work office. I will happily do this again and again, so long as I am able to.

The research is on my side with this point too. Working outside:

  • Lowers stress
  • Encourages movement
  • Improves memory, mood, immunity, and sleep
  • Boosts energy and creativity
  • Reduces depression, inflammation, and sick days
  • Relieves pain
  • Increases happiness

For more information, check out thisthis, and this.

Victoria Day fireworks

Firework display.
Fireworks

I did take some pictures of my family and I enjoying some Victoria Day fireworks but, as you may know, cellphone quality firework shots are notoriously shoddy. So, please enjoy this stock photo.

Up until this day, all of my activities had taken place during the day. I think these ideas are more obvious. I’m glad this spontaneous reason to get outside at night presented itself. It ended up being a lot of fun.

To be honest, I completely forgot that this past weekend was the Victoria Day holiday. It wasn’t until I heard the pops and cracks of fireworks that I realized it. My daughter got all excited and wanted to run outside to see if we could see any fireworks. We cuddled up in a blanket on the back deck and watched sparkly little bursts of colour light up the spaces between the branches on our trees.

When my partner got home, we decided to take a little drive to see if we could catch some more. We managed to take in a few bursts right beside the CN Tower. It was beautiful. As soon as we got home, we sat in the back of the pickup truck, all cuddled together, and took in the final show of the evening. It was picture perfect. Well, it would have been if I had a better camera anyway…

Nurturing life

Vegetables growing in pots.
Veggies growing in pots

As I am sure you know by now, I love to garden. This week was the prime opportunity for this occasion. I spent many hours planning, preparing, building, planting, watering, watching, and waiting this week. It was thrilling.

There is truly something magical about creating and nurturing life. Of course, my greatest accomplishment in this regard was becoming a mother. Now, I gain a great deal of satisfaction growing and nurturing plants of all kinds, which is made all the more special when I get to share these activities with the one who calls me Mama, as I got to experience this week. 

I am looking forward to continuing this work every season for many years to come, as I have learned is possible thanks to the wonderful Niki Jarbbour, writer of The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener. Check her out if you’re interested in growing vegetables in the winter – yes, even in Nova Scotia, Canada (where Niki is from)! I think this is so important for self sufficiency and I can’t wait to share my journey with you.

One week left

Black background with industrial light bulb hanging into the frame.
Looking for ideas

As I look forward to the home stretch of this challenge, I am looking for some creative ideas for getting outside. If you have some thoughts, let me know in the comments section below and I just may give them a try (and give you a shout out in the process)! Inspire me, I beg of you.

Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW
Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW

Tina Cumby, MSW, RSW, is an independent writer and creator of free content for mental health professionals. She has been employed as a social worker for four years and has another year of case management and policy development experience. She works primarily with adults living at the intersections of poverty, disability, and trauma at all levels of practice (micro, mezzo, and macro). Tina is particularly well versed in social work case management and student supervision.

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