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Connecting with nature

A day in the Northumberland countryside has rejuvenated Sue Spencer, and made her realise how important it is to get away regularly and spend some time connecting with the natural world …

This time I thought I would share with you some thoughts that came to me this weekend. Saturday found me tramping around a remote Northumberland Fell. The purpose of the day was to pay attention to nature and the sights, smells, tastes and textures of the outdoors. The details of the day I will spare you but suffice to say that six hours out there with only water and a couple of cereal bars gave me plenty of opportunities to contemplate my surroundings.

The first couple of hours were quite exhilarating - getting away from all modern day noises and intrusions. But after a while it all became quite an ordeal. However, at the end of the day it provided me with an opportunity to re-evaluate my life goals and how I go about achieving them. That might be quite a biggy and I will spare you the philosophy, but my day communing with nature made me realise how little I notice the natural world around me in my busy and sometimes out-of-control and demanding life.

How often during our working week do we take time out to walk alongside trees and birds? Do you have an oasis in the city or town that you can go to for half an hour a week? Walk around slowly and pay attention to all around you, listen to the birds singing and notice the change in seasons. An American, Richard Louv, has an interesting theory about the problems with children in this modern age. His thesis is that much of what ails our children today is "nature deficit disorder".(1)

This might be a contentious topic and I am keen to find out more about it, but it does interest me and I wonder whether at times I might suffer from it myself! If I stop finding time to go for a walk in the local park or along the beach I soon lose a sense of perspective and find myself over-reacting to all sorts of things!

So I am going to find time to walk out there, build myself a little haven in the garden and find time to listen and pay attention to the natural world.(2) I'll let you know how I get on but I certainly found that Saturday's expedition provided me with loads of notes for poems - a well of ideas I thought had dried up!

Next time I will have prepared a lecture on "The Nursing Identity" and I intend to share my musings with you. If any of you out there would like to let me know your thoughts about the nursing identity or how you feel about connecting to nature please let me know. It would be good to hear from you.

1. Louv R. Last child in the woods: saving our children from nature-deficit disorder. Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books; 2006.

2. Moss S. Back to nature. The Guardian 2007. Available from: