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30 days wild – My journey

Posted: Friday 19th June 2015 by 30-Days-Wild

30 Days Wild blog30 Days Wild Derbyshire blog

The Wildlife Trusts recently launched a campaign to help people to connect to nature – 30 days wild. Over 11,000 people have taken part and I am one of them!

As a Chief Executive of a Wildlife Trust, and someone who has worked in the conservation sector for decades as well as someone who likes to visit nature reserves and wild spaces with (and sometimes without!) our two spaniels, just how much wilder could my life get??

The honest answer… a lot!

I thought I had a good connection with nature. Every day I see the benefits that connecting with nature has on people. But did I connect enough myself? I thought so! But the real answer is …no!

30 days wild encourages you to spend 30mins every day in June doing something “wild”. Like most peopleI lead a busy life, so whilst it sounded east, it actually turned out to be quite a challenge! It made me realise how absent nature and wildlife are from my day to day life. Weekends have always been “wild”. My husband and I like nothing more than a wild walk exploring somewhere new , and most Sundays see us putting on our wellies and waterproofs (a sad reflection of the British weather!) for a walk (often including a pub lunch, I have to admit!). Our holidays are similar – we often camp, and our holidays are spent walking or kayaking and wildlife spotting in a wild and relatively uninhabited place.

But – the working week is different. Whilst I am extremely lucky to have a job I love, and I look forward to a new adventure every day, my working life is not very wild. Many people comment that I am “ lucky to work for a wildlife trust and spend lots of time outdoors with wildlife”. Sadly, that is far from the truth. My working life is mostly spent in meetings or chained to my desk and working long hours. I am not complaining - I love my job, my meetings are usually really positive and exciting and I relish the chance to really make a difference. But, sadly, it does it create a disconnect with nature. I didn’t really, truly realise this… until 30 days wild. The challenge of squeezing in 30mins of “wild” activity didn’t seem a hard challenge at first. But it was far harder than it looked… but much more rewarding and fun that I had anticipated. As I type this we are on day 18 – and I have done many new things and had some truly special “wild” times. I am now determined to make it a daily ritual – 300 days wild here I come!

 

Am I healthier and happier as a result? Absolutely! I love my “wild time“… and I look forward to it. That chance to step back and marvel at the wonder and awe and beauty of nature is irreplaceable. Our wildlife is amazing. 30 days wild has helped me reconnect with the simple things – bird song in the garden, slugs on the pavement, a tree canopy, blowing on a dandelion clock, making a daisy chain…. As a result I notice nature more now in my every day life. I always noticed nature when I visited a nature reserve. But did I stop to notice it on my way to the station, or walking to a meeting? No! I was too busy thinking, worrying, planning. Now I notice nature everywhere I go… and I am reminded how amazing nature is, and I take time out to make sure I appreciate it during the working day, or immediately after.

The realisation of just how much difference this makes, makes me even more determined to ensure our children, and future generations, get to experience these simple every day wildlife experiences. I face an uphill battle - it is a sad fact that our wildlife and wild spaces are increasingly at risk. 97% of our grasslands have vanished and many of our species are at risk of extinction. Plus, even more worryingly children spend more time watching TV and on the internet and less and less time outdoors.

So, I urge you - take time to reconnect with the nature on your doorstep and appreciate your local wildlife - it is truly amazing, and we need to keep it that way. The only way to ensure our nature is there for future generations to enjoy is to ensure as many people as possible connect in this way. If you need inspiration, visit the 30 days wild website, or join the 14,000 people who are already members of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust. Re-connect with nature in YOUR everyday life… and see for yourself how much joy and happiness it brings!

Follow me on twitter at @JoSmithDWT and share in my journey!
 

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