Linda Taylor | notice (place) advocate
As a child I loved nature and have many memories of enjoying activities outdoors; encouraged by my ‘nature-loving’ dad. Whenever I have experienced low points in my life I have felt the need to return to nature, to be outdoors, to escape from the confinement of a building. I found that walking in woodland, being high on a hill or next to water had the most benefit to any low mood, stress or anxiety I was experiencing. Noticing the beauty of our world seems to help put life back in perspective. I feel nature has been my medicine on numerous occasions and experiencing nature has been my way of healing my heart.
I took early retirement last year having worked with children and young people with special needs for over almost 40 years. My work involved supporting the social, emotional and behavioural wellbeing of children and their families. Key to my role was looking at the world from their perspective to help understand their needs and difficulties. A large part of this involved counselling and supporting the confidence and self-esteem of children who had often not had the best start in life. I found that engaging young people in outdoor experiences helped to bring calm to their lives whereas being in the classroom environment seemed to put them in a ‘fight or flight’ mode. Once outdoors, however, they seemed relaxed and open to talk and accept support.
I loved my work and retirement brought an unexpected sense of loss and sadness and I needed to redefine my life and myself. Yet again nature, and an easy to use camera, helped me out! I find that I can now see and appreciate the natural world with a relaxed mind and I notice much more than ever before. I have encouraged my own friends to appreciate nature by setting up a walking group; ‘Natter in Nature’. I researched the social, physical and emotional value of walking and nature to encourage my fellow walkers. I get a real sense of exhilaration from being outdoors in nature, whatever the weather. Noticing the beauty and simplicity of nature has its own healing powers. I can lose myself in the moment when I am in nature, it has taught me ‘mindfulness’; living in and enjoying the moment, clearing the mind while escaping from worries or negative emotions. This is why Human-Nature Escapes fits in so well with my own philosophy.
Taking notice isn’t just about seeing with our eyes. It involves using all of our senses and more! Noticing is about hearing the sounds of nature, breathing, tasting and smelling the air, experiencing natural textures by touch, feeling the temperature on your face, sensing the ground underfoot, and being aware of your emotions when you’re in the natural environment. Of course there is so much to notice with our eyes too. Noticing the change of the seasons, each bringing their own beauty. I find that taking notice of nature has also developed my sense of curiosity; for example, noticing raindrops clinging to some plants and not others, and in this case using extreme close-up photographs provided an explanation as to why.
In my role as ‘Notice (Place)’ Advocate for Human-Nature, I hope I can encourage others to find just as much healing and pleasure from ‘noticing nature’ as I do. I often feel a flutter of joy and excitement when I see the beauty of nature; for me, it’s my ‘feel good factor’!