Connect: It’s what I do

Yin-Yang Nature

Photo credit: Darin Luehrs, AMP Photography

Because my background is varied, I often am asked, “What do you do now?” The short answer is; I help people connect to themselves, to others and to Earth. In order to do our best work in the world, we must first understand ourselves. We are all worthy, capable and have unique gifts to share with the world. When we know ourselves; strengths and limitations, we know when to give our gifts and when to ask others to share theirs. And we need everyone’s unique gifts to make this world and our planet a more beautiful and healthy place.

Connect to self

To uncover self, I follow an Adlerian process (based on the individual psychology of Alfred Adler). This process starts with alignment. Alignment means that I consider myself on the same level as others. I have experienced many ups and downs in my life and have my own struggles. I share my stories, where appropriate, to demonstrate our equal humanity. No matter what we’ve been through or the mistakes we’ve made, we are all capable of personal discovery and growth. The process continues with assessments, followed by discovery/insight and, finally, by reorienting and deciding on new beliefs and behaviors.

Personal growth topics through my workshops include internal dialogue, self-care, courage, vulnerability, boundaries, values, strengths, personality, balancing life tasks, emotional intelligence, and greatest fears. Because evaluation and action are necessary for personal growth, I work hard to make my workshops experiential and reflective. Change can’t happen without an understanding of core, and sometimes unconscious, beliefs, and an uncovering of childhood influences around current struggles. Turning struggle into success involves claiming who you are, creating new beliefs and envisioning a better future self.

I know this process works because I practice it myself. My own wellbeing has improved dramatically because I am becoming more authentic, taking more responsibility for actions and worrying less about the expectations of others. Just recently, I uncovered some beliefs around physical health and as a result, am losing weight, following-through on my commitment to yoga and eating more whole foods. I feel good and am happy about an unexpected, yet dramatic reduction in back pain (as a result of several accidents). This success wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t first uncovered some mistaken beliefs. The results I’ve experienced might not be as remarkable; I was simply ready to change.

Connect to others

With a good process and base for an understanding of self, it becomes easier to work with others. I take conflict less personally. I realize everyone has unique personalities, needs, wants and experiences that must be brought to the table for the greater good. Understanding the spectrum of preferences and beliefs is better than focusing on right and wrong, black and white.

I’ve become a little obsessed with the yin-yang symbol because it depicts how we must work together for a better life. If one half is self and the other is “others”, it is the blend of both that expands life. I see the dot inside self as the need to be humble and know we need others to survive. Without humility, selfishness will create struggle. I see the dot inside the “others” half as autonomy and self-directing freedom. Too much doing for others and ignoring self leads to struggle too.

Topics I cover in this “connect to others” category include conflict resolution, cooperative language and introduction to facilitation. When we learn how to ask questions, master language (words and body) and uncover shared meaning, we create a better system for innovation. Meetings are better when agendas are developed with outcomes in mind and processes to assure everyone engages.

Connect to Earth

I asked a dear friend from high school, who is an amazing photographer, to create the yin-yang image for me. The moon and sun represent the dots inside the symbol and the landscapes show how dependent we are on Earth for our ultimate survival. Harmony with self, others and Earth is the goal.

Nature is incorporated into my workshops as much as possible. I use nature items or photos during introductions and activities in indoor workshops and webinars. The metaphors and stories show how very connected we are to our environment. Pretty much everyone can find pleasure in a great nature item or photograph and those stories unify us.

I offer Ecopsychology workshops where I guide participants to their own environmental identity. I prepare attendees to take clients and program participants outdoors in a safe, fun and ethical manner. We discuss how to meet people where they are in their outdoor experience pathway and not assume or judge. Advocacy for the outdoor spaces we love and frequent is always discussed so those spaces are protected into the future.

As a result of many of my conservationist and outdoor industry friends expressing overwhelm in their jobs, I am also developing a series of self-care workshops just for this community. I’ll be covering topics around self-care beliefs, life balance, boundaries, eco-anxiety, in hopes of helping them reconnect to their outdoor roots. Most in the conservation community did not “sign up” for things like invasive species, wildlife disease, and climate change. We do, however, all need their valuable expertise in helping our planet rejuvenate and flourish. But they need to be their best selves. Funny, how this again circles back to self.

My journey

My pathway to this work is strange and beautiful. As a child, I wanted to be a tiger biologist but later realized that there were very few in the world and became more realistic. I studied biology and then wildlife management and spent five years in human-wildlife conflict (mostly deer management). After taking five years off to have children, I spent fourteen years in the archery industry (the connection was through bowhunting). When I left there, I sensed the need for better ways of cooperation for real change.

I studied change management and concluded it wasn’t quite getting to the heart of our human issues. Upon reflection, I realized my parenting experiences taught me more about the human condition than anything. Through my struggle as a parent, I was introduced to the theories of Alfred Adler, the originator of individual psychology. I began to study and through this study, found more of myself. As Adler would say, I then used my courage to adapt to develop the business I have today. I am turning my love of nature and curiosity about others into direct and indirect ways to reconnect people and planet. And, I am excited to share my experiences and expertise in hopes that you learn to optimize your gifts for the betterment of yourself, others and our amazing Earth.

You could say I am working towards a new “floristic style of living” as Aldo Leopold so eloquently dreamed. I end with a final quote from my favorite Ecopsychology text, Voice of the Earth by Theodore Roszak; “The motivation for change on a planetary scale must arise from within, a genuinely personal need for a new quality of life.”

Categories: Outdoor, Wellness Tags: #connect