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  • Writer's pictureSylvie Barr

December Musings on Nature, Authenticity and Thriving

a tree canopy

In the copse

As the year draws to a close and we are nearing the winter solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere, I wanted once more to share with you my connection to Mother Nature and how it manifests itself in my business.

Last month I went to say a very fond farewell to the place that held me, nurtured me and re-energised me for the past 7 years: the nature reserve which we used to live by.

Over the years I learnt to know these woods, the paths that families, runners and dog walkers carved through them, as well as the not so trodden ones.

I enjoyed witnessing the cycle of seasons, the explosion of green tender leaves, bluebells and white anemones in the spring; the cooling, dense canopy in summer; the splendour of the leaves turning and the sweet smell of the wild orchard in the autumn; the quietness, tranquillity and majesty of snowy days in winter.

I enjoyed the sounds of the birds chirping and the squirrels bickering in the trees, of the branches cracking under my feet, and the joyous gurgle of the streams after the rain.

I enjoyed the touch of the various barks, from the rugged oak, to the smooth birch and the furry sequoia.

As I settle in a new place, I’m yet to find my new sanctuary. I haven’t moved that far away - only an hour’s drive west. Yet it takes some time to find your special place. As I’m scouting the neighbourhood, I realise even more how blessed I was to live near that nature reserve these past few years.

As a human being, I’m not unusual in loving being in the natural world.

Dom Higgins, from The Wildlife Trusts, explains: ‘I think our deep connection with nature is tied to our roots. We are designed as a species to spend time outside, and if we can connect with nature, the evidence shows that it tends to make us happier and healthier.’

Sadly our modern lifestyle tends to pull us away from it.

The World Bank predicts that by 2050, nearly 70% of the global population will live in cities. There are currently 4.4 billion people (that’s 56%, over half of the world population already) who live in urban areas. This brings significant health, social, environmental and structural challenges.

Last month, the ONS (Office for National Statistics) unveiled that 1 million fewer people across the UK gained health benefits from spending time in nature in 2022 compared with 2020.

The trend was caused by a drop in the number of visits to – and time spent in – nature over the last two years. The number of visits is now back to levels last seen in 2019, significantly down from a coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic-led peak in 2020.

Yet scientific research has shown that spending at least 2 hours in nature every week is good for our health and well-being.

And in return, being connected to nature motivates us to look after it. Alice Starmore, an internationally renowned textile designer from the Isle of Lewis, has a deep sense of place and the land where she and her ancestors are from.

This has fostered a strong sense of responsibility and led her to successfully fight against the build of a large-scale wind farm on the North Lewis Moor back in 2005. This development would have caused huge and irreversible damage to the area and its wildlife.

Alice said something that hit the mark for me: ‘Now people have lost their connection with the land - and it is hard to care for something you do not know’.

As I’m writing this, COP28 is taking place, marred by the controversy of its leadership and some pervasive greenwashing. The odds aren’t that great to reach the commitments that our planet needs to avoid catastrophic overheating.

But what’s the thread that binds me and my business to the fate of Mother Nature?

I’m no climate scientist, nor an expert in ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) reporting.

I’m not an eco warrior or a climate activist either.

I just deeply care about the natural world, a world that has given me so much already by nurturing me and teaching me in equal measures.

The way I care about nature, the way I practice and encourage Sustainability through holisto® is to guide my clients on their self discovery journey.

It was music to my ears to find out that Merriam-Webster, the oldest dictionary publisher in the United States, chose ‘authentic’ as their word for 2023.

If you have been reading my emails or blogs for a while, you know that I’m not jumping on the bandwagon. For me, being authentic in every aspect of life, including business, is the only way to be.

I read that people can find it tricky to define what it really means.

It’s rather simple in my view. Being authentic, or true to yourself, is to embrace your natural gifts and talents. It’s to celebrate and make the most of the traits and attributes that Mother Nature gifted you with.

This isn’t something that we’ve been encouraged to do as we grew up though. For many of us, our education consisted of pointing out all the areas to improve on. As a result, we focus on our weaknesses, obsess about how we should be instead of delighting in who we really are.

Yet when we are fully aware of our natural strengths, when we understand how and where to use our unique talents, we thrive - whatever shape it takes.

To celebrate the authentic in us I’m running a very special offer for a few days.

If you want to start or resume your self discovery journey with me as your guide, DM me and I’ll give you all the details.

Until then, I hope you can spend some time in nature very soon 🌳

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