FEATURED IMAGE DESCRIPTION: A photograph of the side of a cliff, with trees below. The blue sky is lit up with pink clouds as the sun is setting and there is a lake in the background.
BY: FRANCE THERIAULT
Nature is my sanctuary, it is one of my favourite healing therapies. After my Traumatic Brain Injury, I soon realized I needed peace, quietness, solitude and a place where I would be able to safely reconnect with myself.
I started to venture solo, appreciating the beauty all around me in the forest. My slower pace made it easier to contemplate, discover and observe details – colours, textures, and shapes – things I would have dismissed pre-concussion.
At the beginning of my healing process I was entangled in a lot of physical pain and my physical abilities were limited. Spending time in nature, slowly moving my body, feeling the warmness of the sun on my face felt wonderful, I was alive. Hearing the birds chirping, seeing the squirrels racing each other and noticing the butterflies coming towards me was a fabulous distraction from the various symptoms that clouded my day.
Nine years later, I am convinced there are so many benefits of spending time outside in nature.
After a few minutes walking in the forest, I feel an overall sense of wellbeing. Even if my mind is racing and part of my body is in discomfort, I start to experience groundedness, wholeness and a deep connection with all the elements around me; the visible ones and the invisible ones.
Not every outdoor scenery is equal and each one of them brings me a variety of sensory experiences.
I can access the beach a few meters from my apartment. As soon as the warmer days arrive, I love walking barefoot in the sand. I take pleasure observing the clouds in the sky and I certainly appreciate seeing little ones having an agreeable time with their friends. Joy is always coming along, gratitude is not very far behind.
I have so many hiking possibilities around me, I am delighted my adventurous side came to my mental rescue over the years. With my hiking poles in hand, I feel I can venture in more challenging terrains, climbing over obstacles or ascending/descending hills that offer me some new possibilities. The Niagara Escarpment provides numerous trails in many cities. Over the last few years, I explored many trails with friends and every season brought delightful magnificent scenery. I am fond of capturing beauty, and creating wonderful memories I enjoy revisiting.
City explorations are great when I am looking for a rapid pick me up between two activities. Walking in downtown Burlington is fun and there is always something to discover or rediscover. People are friendly, often you can see me engaging in a brief conversation with a passerby who, just like me, is outside taking advantage of the nice weather.
I am already thrilled with fabulous hiking possibilities I will explore as the weather slowly starts to change. Nature’s transformative process will bring a lot to contemplate, to admire and to savour.
Perhaps I will see you this summer at one of my favourite hiking destinations.
You can follow France on Instagram at Standingbyyourside65 where she shares inspirational stories, and insights of living a beautiful and meaningful life 9 years after having a Traumatic Brain Injury from a cycling accident.