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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our trip in photos

Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 4Happy Labour Day, Canada and USA!

Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 1In keeping with the holiday theme, I wanted to share with everyone the pictures that were taken on our most recent vacation. I chose to do things a little differently this time around. Rather than relying solely on my digital camera and iPhone, I had purchased a disposable camera prior to our trip. I was worried that I was going to quickly burn through 27 photos, and would need to buy more than one. To my surprise, it was actually the other way around. I found myself being extremely selective about what I chose to document. Come the last day, I had not yet used the entire roll. Keep in mind that last year, I took over 300 pictures with my Canon. 

Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 7Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 6While the quality is much more grainy, and the cost of the camera and to develop the photographs came to around $40 (a little steep), I actually think that I prefer to use rolls of film rather than digital prints. It made me much more aware of my surroundings, in addition to cherishing the results that much more. Besides, there’s nothing more exciting than waiting a few days to see the results. At least for me, that is.

Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 5Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 8Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 12Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 10Jan Lake Lodge - Trip 13What are your thoughts on film vs. digital prints?

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Emory

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horror camping flicks

UntitledddsdA few weeks ago, my husband and I watched a horror film that centred on a couple getting lost and ultimately meeting their own demise in the woods. It was incredibly scary. Afterwards, I turned to Geoffrey and said that there was no way that I would be going camping this summer. Then we watched another one. My previous comment was only solidified after the second movie.

I stewed over the films for a few days, and because I cannot experience anything in life without thinking about how I can turn it into a blog post, I thought why not scare my readers just as I scared myself? It’s surprising how many camping horror films are in existence, especially on Netflix! I chose five movies that are easily accessible, just for you fine folks. Enjoy!

file_177193_1_willow-creek1. Willow Creek (2013)

Synopsis: Found footage movie Willow Creek is a radical departure in Bobcat Goldthwait’s career after directing a string of black comedies. In the great American tradition of people venturing into the woods and encountering absolutely pants-wetting terror, what starts as two dorks with a video camera having a lark in a national park metastasizes into something much deeper, darker, and queasier. Set in Humboldt County, California, Willow Creek centers on Jim (Bryce Johnson) a Bigfoot believer whose idea of a romantic getaway is to head deep into Six Rivers National Forest in Northern California, video camera in tow, trying to shoot his own Bigfoot footage at the site of the Patterson-Gimlin film. That 1967 fragment of footage purporting to show Sasquatch striding along a dry riverbed became a key artifact in the cryptozoology community, and Jim dreams of nothing more than setting foot on the actual location where it was shot. His long-suffering girlfriend, Kelly (Alexie Gilmore), agrees to tag along for the ride, despite the fact that she thinks Bigfoot has about as much chance of being real as leprechauns.

Rotten Tomatoes: 86%

SAW_1Sheet_Comps2. The Descent (2005)

Synopsis: A group of close female friends on a yearly adventure vacation find themselves trapped and hunted in a series of caves by an unknown force that lurks in the shadows, in the second horror feature from writer/director Neil Marshall. After suffering a devastating car crash one year before, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is lured to the States with her friend Beth (Alex Reid) to a special spelunking trip by the fearless Juno (Natalie Mendoza), who abruptly fled from the U.K. after Sarah’s accident. Along with two old friends and a new acquaintance of Juno’s, the group embark on a cave expedition that takes a turn for the worse after a rock fall leaves them stranded in an uncharted cave with no map and only a handful of supplies to last them the rest of the trip. As tensions arise in the group, they are faced with another danger — one whose love of the dark is as strong as its lust for blood. 

Rotten Tomatoes: 85%

preservation3. Preservation (2015)

Synopsis: Preservation follows brothers Sean (Pablo Schreiber), a recently returned veteran, and Mike (Aaron Staton), a hedge fund manager, who head out of town to hunt in a closed nature preserve with Mike’s wife, Wit (Wrenn Schmidt) – a brainy anesthesiologist – in tow. With Sean unhinged from his stint in the military, and Mike distracted by career ambition, this was not the romantic getaway Wit was hoping for. But soon the trio is threatened by an unseen menace, and the hunters become the hunted. A camping trip in the woods turns into a contest for survival. When the brothers are stalked and ensnared, Wit must unleash her own animal instincts or else end up a trophy.

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

honeymoon-dvd-cover-794. Honeymoon (2014)

Synopsis: Young newlyweds Paul (Harry Treadaway) and Bea (Rose Leslie) travel to remote lake country for their honeymoon, where the promise of private romance awaits them. Shortly after arriving, Paul finds Bea wandering and disoriented in the middle of the night. As she becomes more distant and her behavior increasingly peculiar, Paul begins to suspect something more sinister than sleepwalking took place in the woods. Treadaway and Leslie give captivating leading performances as a couple that takes new love to disturbing depths. With romance slowing giving way to terror, writer/director Leigh Janiak puts her unique stamp on this intimate, chilling thriller.

Rotten Tomatoes: 70%

Poster-Art-for-Dont-Blink5. Don’t Blink (2014)

Synopsis: Ten people arrive at a secluded mountain resort to find it completely deserted. With no gas for the return trip, the visitors are forced to stay and investigate the mystery surrounding the abandoned lodge.

Rotten Tomatoes: 23%

The next time you are in your tents in the middle of nowhere, and you hear a branch snap in the distance, please remember this post. Then run for your lives!

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Emory

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hand-painted wilderness tablecloth : diy

TableclothDIY4-1In my honest opinion, a tablecloth is an equally ingenious and underrated kitchen object. Many people tend spend a lot of money on their dining room furniture, given that kitchens and dining rooms are generally the gathering place of the home. Yet, what they then use to protect their tables are nothing more than a few tiny rectangular placemats. Guys, that’s like getting out of the shower and only drying your kneecaps. No? Well, I personally believe that the entire table needs to be covered. 

So what stops most people from using a tablecloth? To begin, they usually don’t want to hide their expensive table but rather show it off when company comes for a visit. It can also be hard to find a good-looking tablecloth. Then there’s that extra step of having to wash it after meals. This DIY will address those issues. 

Tablecloth DIY 7Materials for a hand-painted tablecloth:

Either a

Plastic tablecloth
Acrylic paint
Brushes

Or

Cloth tablecloth
Fabric marker

Tablecloth DIY 3Steps:

1. Lay out your tablecloth in a large room.

2. Paint your design.

3. Let dry.

4. Use with fervour! 

Tablecloth DIY 5If you do not wish to wash the tablecloth after meals, then opt to use a plastic one. That way, you can recycle it after a few uses, and start over with a new design!

Tablecloth DIY 8I chose to make a wild and whimsical tablecloth to match the rustic decor of The Little Barn. Given that Canada day and Independence Day are just around the corner, this is an opportune time to make your own patriotic one! I guarantee that guests will ask you which store you purchased it from. You will then be able to boast that it was made by your own two able hands. Talk about a ‘wildly’ successful craft project!

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Emory

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my yurt review

DSC_0667(Image via Tiny House Blog)

Remember this cabin? (Not the cabin that is shown above, but the one in the article link.) I had fallen in love with it at first sight. True love, not the superficial kind of love that you get when you see something or someone that strikes your fancy. You know, the love that only happens to you once in a lifetime. Well, it’s happened again!

I was kidding, of course. It totally was superficial.

IMG_0291(Image via Tiny House Blog)

I came across this yurt getaway on the Tiny House Blog. In summary, Eric wanted a weekend getaway on an island just off of the Washington coast. He wanted to build it as inexpensively and quickly as possible, thus making it off the grid and tiny. Furnished with a vintage icebox, stainless steel freestanding sink, minimal seating, and southwestern accents, I’m confident in admitting that I’m pining after it. (Pining, get it? Because it’s in the forest.) It’s unique shape only adds to its appeal. The fact that he also has a dog in the photographs? Well, he just bumped it up from puppy love to true love. (Puppy love. I did it again.)

Be sure to visit Tiny House Blog for a more complete description and tour!

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Emory

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