Stories from my personal journey learning about and delivering Nature-rooted programs across three different countries

The Power of Slowing Down...

Caylin (Forest Schooled)
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I'm not very good at slowing down. Wait, let me rephrase that.

I'm getting better at slowing down.

For example, I woke up this morning to the sound of raindrops on my window, and that feeling that sometimes comes with it that it's a good day to be cozy and rest. There are also days where the rain beckons to me and I go out to play. Today was not one of those days.

"Rest," the raindrops said in a faint whisper that I, at first, resisted.
I decided that if my body did not need to go out to play in the rain (usually a walk or a run), then I would write a blog post instead. I enjoy writing, though I don't do it nearly as much these days, and sitting down with a cup of tea to write a blog still counts as rest. Right?

So I started to do just that. I settled into a spot on the bed, placed my mug on the side table next to me... preparing myself to write. Then, just as I reached for the laptop, my little furry friend (a black kitten we adopted a few months ago) took the emptiness of a lap not yet occupied as her responsibility to amend. She quickly ran over, curled up in it, and fell asleep purring.

No room for a laptop now. And no comfortable way to type with a cat on my lap...

So I left the closed laptop where it was, wrapped us both in a blanket, and decided to sit there listening to the sound of her purrs and the rain instead. 10 minutes turned into 30 which turned into 60 and possibly even more. I'm not sure. I lost track of time.
I'm getting better at slowing down.

I've realized the world I've grown up into didn't teach me how to slow down. It taught me how to speed up, how to do more in less time, increase efficiency, continue striving to be "better." To do more, and more, and more. Often at the expense of my wellbeing.

Slowing down? That's something I'm having to teach myself.

And I'm learning how it requires more listening than doing, listening to how my energy changes day to day or even hour to hour and making choices that work with that flow rather than against it.

I'm learning how it requires making time and space to do and achieve less and giving myself permission for this. To remind myself it's okay to simply exist. And breathe.

I'm learning how it requires asking for help when I need it so I don't try to do everything myself. This means letting go of assuming others will judge me or feel burdened, and trusting myself to lean on my community for support.

I'm learning how it requires saying no. Turning down opportunities, invitations, and especially my own self-criticism about what I should be doing to create more space for things that really matter to me. This one is really hard, but can feel oh so good.

I'm also learning how slowing down is necessary for reflection, and how reflection is profoundly connected to learning. I learn so much more deeply when I make time and space to reflect. For example, Forest Schooled wouldn't exist if I hadn't have been invited to reflect through a learning journal while completing my Forest School Leader qualification (you can read more about that story in my book, Forest Schooled, The Book.)

I'm learning how slowing down resembles what I try to create for the children and adults I work with - how a Forest School approach gives us permission to slow down, listen to ourselves and each other, exist rather than just achieve, build a community and support system over experiences that are meaningful, and create depth in our learning through reflection.
And usually for me, it truly is about making the time. Without creating an intention and a routine to slow down, it just wouldn't happen. Because in the usual fast-pace of this modern world, none of us seem to ever "have" enough time.

So I "make" time.

I'm getting better at slowing down.
I write blog posts as a way to reflect and deepen my learning, but there are so many other ways of doing this. So I'm inviting you to join me, should you find yourself slowing down - intentionally, or perhaps unintentionally as so many of us are during these times of physical distancing - to make some time to reflect. And for those who truly can't slow down because you are directly responding to this crisis, I am thinking of you with gratitude and hope that you will have time to rest soon.

If you're interested in extra resources to help with the process of reflection, I am posting a few things below that I've created over the years (including some new e-learning packs I just released this week!).

And if none of these resources appeal to you right now, that's absolutely fine. Take your time. There's no rush ;)

Free PDF

New E-Learning Reflection Packs
The Value of Outdoor Play and Ways to Support it
Encouraging Emergent and Learner-led Experiences Outdoors
Reframing our Perceptions of "Challenging Behaviour" in the Outdoors
The intention behind these "Reflection Packs" is to help guide us in considering these topics more deeply, thereby improving the quality of the experiences we can provide for children (and ourselves). You can work through the packs at your own pace, and in whatever order feels best to you.

Each pack includes...
  • 20 page PDF with 7-8 story excerpts from Forest Schooled, The Book (find out what people are saying about the book on my BOOKS page!).
  • Reflective questions after each story to encourage deeper thought and discussion.
  • Space to take notes on what you are learning and write down ideas for how you can apply it in your life/work.
  • Access to a 30-40 minute audio recording version of the pack so you can listen to it instead of, or in addition to, reading!
  • A whole lot of love, passion, and playfulness from me in putting these packs together :)

Find out more about the E-learning packs HERE

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