"Once you find that thing that makes you feel like the truest version of yourself, it makes more sense to ask how you could not pursue that thing."
- Liv Arnesen, "No Horizon Is So Far"

That thing for me was a fortunate choice over 40 years ago to live very close to nature and to spend time outdoors.

I call home 400 acres in the Superior National Forest and everyday life is interwoven with being out, getting wood for the stove, pumping water, the outhouse, growing organic gardens, caring for 30 sled dogs, building trails, listening to wolves howl and teaching kayaking and mushing to women.

When I am outside and my feet are touching the Earth and my head is touching the sky, I can feel spirit travel through me, grounding and enlightening. It is the quiet and beauty, the feeling of health and healing and a chance to live in tune with my values.

I have always loved being in the quiet, and more so every day. It is easier to hear my thoughts and self-talk and this can be a wonderful and challenging place to be. To feel like I am my authentic self is a place of freedom, but it doesn't come automatically or easily. I have found that to learn who I am and to think about who I want to be - to do the work to become that person - is an ongoing process. I find the quiet of nature and lack of distractions most helpful.

Oh beauty - we do need it as much as bread, and it is a big inspiration for being outside. There are no mirrors outdoors; we see the beauty of nature and that is what is reflected back to us. When I do this often enough, it helps me to feel that a beautiful person comes from the inside out.

For me the outdoors inspires movement and activity, and the more I do the better I feel. This can lead to passions like having a large pack of sled dogs. That will take one outdoors. So many ways to enhance one's mood through endorphins.

Our lives have problems, stress and pain, and being outside can be a balm for healing. We can think and be however we need to and there is no judgment; there is time and acceptance.

"Ultimately we have just one moral duty: to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, and the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will also be in our troubled world." - Etty Hillesum, "An Interrupted Life."

The outdoors and nature offer hope. The birds singing in the spring, a quiet snowfall, northern lights, paddling on sparkling water, a glowing sunrise. It helps one feel connected to the divine.

Kathleen Anderson owns Wintermoon Summersun Adventures in northeastern Minnesota, where she teaches dogsledding and kayaking to women. www.wintermoonsummersun.com

Kathleen Anderson recommends these books by women authors focusing on the outdoors:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver
Deep Water Passage: A Spiritual Journey at Midlife by Ann Linnea
Dorothy Molter - The Root Beer Lady of Knife Lake by Sarah Guy-Levar and Terri Schocke
Woman of the Boundary Waters: Canoeing, Guiding, Mushing and Surviving by Justine Kerfoot
Woodswoman: Living Alone in the Adirondack Wilderness by Anne LaBastille

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