a few of the benefits of living somewhere a bit wilder

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Approximately hundred years ago, the vast majority of human beings – including those living in Europe and the United States – lived in rural settings, with only a minority of the population living in highly urbanised environments.

Today, the situation is the exact reverse, with urban areas being highly crowded population centres, and the wilder parts of the world being increasingly sparsely populated.

Throughout almost the entire span of human existence up until this point, we have lived in natural settings that bear virtually no resemblance to modern cities and large towns, and there’s a lot of evidence that living somewhere a bit wilder and a bit closer to the heart of nature can convey all sorts of different potential upsides.

Civilisation provides many amazing benefits, ranging from modern healthcare, to the ability to purchase the best quality eyeglasses for your needs, within moments, via the Internet.

Fortunately, living in a wilder or more rural area doesn’t mean that you have to become a hermit and totally turn your back on technology and modern innovations.

Here are a few of the benefits of living somewhere a bit wilder.

A much closer connection to nature and a sense of being part of a greater whole

For a long time now, a wide variety of people have reported feeling alienated, atomised, and disconnected as a result of city living.

Sociologists dating back at least to the 1800s have made the point that living in dense urban centres naturally creates a sense of distance and disconnection from other people, even when you are completely surrounded by them, and fosters sensations of anxiety and rootlessness.

As human beings, we all need to have a sense of connection to a greater whole in order to really thrive – and that sense of connection to a greater whole frequently comes in the form of a connection to nature, and the more natural and organic kinds of communities that tend to develop in wilder and more rural settings.

Increasingly, psychologists are finding that people who regularly spend time in nature enjoy an enhanced sense of well-being, feel more balanced and whole, and suffer less from many of the issues that afflict people in urban environments.

The psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, for example, makes a compelling case that urban environments keep us completely submerged in a landscape of human artifice, which makes it very difficult for us to feel the sense of organic wholeness that we associate with things like the natural world, and nourishing interpersonal relationships.

Regular opportunities for “silence” and getting in touch with what really matters

One of the most common issues that afflicts virtually everyone today, is the sheer, ever-present, overpowering nature of the various distractions that we are surrounded by day and night.

Whether it’s advertising, worrying stories in the news, the latest celebrity gossip or cultural event, notifications in your social media feeds, or any number of other things, it can often be overwhelming just going through day-to-day life while trying to maintain a bit of balance and poise.

On the one hand, having your attention under constant attack is certainly annoying, but the issue might be significantly more serious than that.

The highly accomplished Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge, who – among other things – was the first man to walk solo to the South Pole, believes that we all need moments of “silence” and freedom from distraction on a regular basis, in order to help us get in touch with our authentic selves, and truly thrive.

For Kagge, many of his best moments of what he calls “silence” came about when he was doing feats of endurance in extreme natural environments.

In recent years, however, he has written a book entitled “Silence in the Age of Noise,” and he argues that it’s possible for us all to find moments for this kind of silence in our own daily lives.

Living in a wilder and more natural area naturally makes it easier to escape the countless distractions that so often bombard us. Simply stepping outside into your garden, going for a stroll, or even just turning off your TV, opening the window, and listening to the sounds of nature, can help you to take a breather.

Importantly, it’s in these kinds of moments of calm and quiet that we often realise what it is that we actually find most significant and meaningful in life.

A higher baseline level of physical activity

As you hear from a huge number of different sources, one of the most pressing public health issues across the developed world today is sedentary living, and lower and lower baseline levels of physical activity for the average person.

Maintaining a high level of low-to-moderate intensity physical activity on a regular basis is associated with all sorts of fantastic health benefits, ranging from improving cardiovascular function, to maintaining a healthy body weight, enjoying an enhanced sense of well-being, experiencing improved immune function, and more.

Living in a wilder locale almost automatically means a higher baseline level of physical activity, as you walk more around your neighbourhood, go strolling through the landscape, potentially work in your garden or on your smallholding, and so on.

At the very least, you’ll almost certainly find it easier to motivate yourself to go out for a stroll if you have some beautiful natural scenery to appreciate just beyond your front door.

Daily opportunities for fascination and insight

It’s probably fair to say that everyone wants their life to be full of moments of fascination, novelty, and insight – and living in a wilder and more natural setting can provide a virtually endless number of opportunities in this regard, if you approach things in the right way.

The natural world is an extremely intricate and fascinating web of different interdependent organisms, forces, and dynamics.

In her book, “Finding the Mother Tree,” plant scientist and former forester Suzanne Simard describes some of the profound ways in which trees and other plants communicate, engage in deeply intricate symbiotic relationships, and shape forests as essentially interconnected, living and breathing mega-organisms.

Whether you are interested in hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, or other high-octane sporting activities, or whether you want to take up birdwatching, explore the forests, try your hand at beekeeping, plant a vegetable garden, or a variety of other things, there are opportunities – on a daily basis – to explore new avenues, delve into new interests, and keep a childlike sense of wonder alive.

While there are certainly all kinds of different things to do in urban environments, the very nature of those environments tends to give us less room to explore and experience those sorts of primal pastimes. Instead, urban environments typically present a preset number of different recreational activities.

Less pollution

Pollution is one of the most pressing issues in the world today, and a lot has been said – and continues to be said – about the ways in which air pollution, water pollution, soil pollution, and more are not only undermining the stability of the planet’s various ecosystems, but also directly harming human health.

Many common pollutants, for example, have been associated with hormonal changes and an increased risk of serious disease.

While many modern cities are far cleaner than they used to be, and while there are pollution concerns in certain rural areas, related largely to pesticides, living in a relatively wild area is likely to mean you will be exposed to significantly less pollution, and can literally “breathe easier” as a result.

Particularly if you have a young family to raise, things like the relative pollution levels in your environment might be major factors to consider, when planning for the future.

More space

It almost goes without saying that living in a wilder and more rural environment automatically tends to mean that you have more space available – both in terms of a larger home and plot of land at a more affordable price, and also in terms of more space between you and your neighbours.

There are many potential benefits to simply having more space at your disposal – ranging from the fact that it might allow for a more comfortable style of living, the fact that it might allow you to work on various projects and interests of yours that would be difficult to work in a more urban environment.

For example, you might be able to create a small barn or workshop, grow a well-sized garden, keep a certain number of livestock, or a variety of other things.

A bit more space between you and your neighbours also means a bit more privacy, and less of the sense of claustrophobia that people sometimes experience when living in crowded cities.

Ultimately, living somewhere wilder can really allow you to tailor your living situation to your particular preferences, in a variety of different ways that will often be at least quite difficult, if not impossible, elsewhere.

** This was a contributed post.

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printing pictures

IMG_0340In preparation for the arrival of our little one, I’ve made it my priority to have a clean slate when it came to photography. What I mean by this is that I have 5 years of pictures stored on my computer that I have yet to print and place in albums. I can happily say that after a few weeks, and hundreds of dollars later, I am almost caught up!

IMG_0881Now when our baby comes, I will only have to worry about printing off new memories. These will obviously focus solely on him or her.

IMG_1275One repercussion of revisiting old photographs is that one becomes completely nostalgic for the past. I find myself wishing almost daily that we could visit USA once again. Until we do, here is a fresh collection at never-before-seen holiday pictures.

IMG_0733IMG_1236This has been quite the task. I cannot wait to be finished!

IMG_0681Tell me, what do you do with your digital photographs?

<3

Emory

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road trip : british columbia

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.26.37 PMIf you can recall this post from the beginning of last summer, my mum and I flew across the country to see the house that she thought she had fallen for. What then ensued felt like an episode of Catfish. At first, the home appeared to be my mum’s dream house. In person, it was a different story, and was very rough around the edges to say the least. Typical Catfish. After flying back home and reconsidering it, my mum changed her mind and fell in love with it one more time. Then she purchased it! Although she would never admit it, she’s a hopeless romantic.

Screen Shot 2014-07-17 at 9.25.01 PMThese Instagram photos were taken during our last trip. If you would like to see exactly what we are up to, then you can follow me here.

IMG_7153

Until Friday!

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Emory

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mama and emma in oliver

1.jpg1-2.jpg2.jpg3.jpg4.jpg5.jpg 6.jpg9.jpg 10.jpg11.jpg 12.jpg13.jpg15.jpg16.jpgA few weeks ago, my mum and I took our first trip together in eight years. Our last vacation was in 2006, and I had just completed the first year of my postsecondary schooling in Toronto, Ontario. That summer I moved back to Saskatoon to live with my parents and to finish my degree at the University of Saskatchewan. Picture an anal retentive daughter who felt a little unsure of her future, a mother who flew by the seat of her pants while holidaying, a bullmastiff puppy who chewed everything in site, and a group of cabins that weren’t fit to live in all dumped in the middle of the woods with a patch of grass for a beach. Yet, the somewhat disastrous nature of that trip has since turned into hilarious and subsequently happy memories. It is certainly one that I will never forget. 

Our destination for this vacation was Oliver, British Columbia. My mum recently put an offer on an acreage two provinces away from where we live and had yet to see it in person. A few days before the sale was to be finalized, she made the decision to fly out there. My brother and his family live only a few hours away from the property, so the trip doubled as an excuse to visit them. The original title of this post was going to be “Nev And Max Do Oliver.” Have any of you seen Catfish? Based on our personalities and my need to document everything, my mum was dubbed the carefree Nev and I was her more organized partner Max. I was hoping that our trip was going to be a much smoother ride than our previous one eight years ago. However, with Nev in charge of planning, Max was thrown into Nev’s world of where anything goes. As they say, “sh*t got cray,” and like the show nothing was as it appeared to be. Similar to the program’s victims, we witnessed firsthand that falling in love with something online is a hell of a lot different than loving it in person.

14.jpgThat is not to say that it wasn’t a great trip. The weather was perfect, the mountains and lakes were breathtakingly beautiful, and we laughed throughout it all. I really did have the best time with my mum. I just need to learn that traveling with her will always be an adventure. More importantly, in the end we accomplished what we set out to do. Oliver really is a beautiful place, but my mother has yet to determine if it’s her kind of beautiful. 

<3

Emory

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