Suburban life is filled with convenience, but with those conveniences come a price. We lose touch with nature, with wide open spaces, with quiet. Mind, body and spirit, we need these experiences to maintain wholeness in the midst of a hectic lifestyle. These few intentional activities can do wonders to rejuvenate young and old — and even middle-aged suburbanites.
1. Take your shoes off.
I know, we are starting simple here, but give it a try! It only takes a small plot of grass to comfort tired feet. (Especially un-manicured feet like mine!) It’s the same as digging your hands in the dirt – you know that feeling? It is how we were meant to connect to nature, and our bodies know it.
2. Find water.
Hopefully you’re not too far away from some type of lake or river. Pack a lunch, load up your crew and find water. We are fortunate to have a creek and river right behind our neighborhood, but we will explore other waters this summer too. We don bug spray, flip flops and nets and look for crawdads under rocks and listen to the trees sway in the breeze. We look for types of fish, leaves and birds and name them once we get back home. Everyone loves it. Even in the melting heat, the streams are a cool retreat.
3. Visit a friend who lives in the country.
They will enjoy your encroachment as much as you will. A whole day with no screens, new things to explore, and quality time, just imagine! Extra points for being out of cell phone range.
4. Visit a state or national park.
In case you don’t have a friend who lives in the country, don’t worry – everyone has access to state parks. Here in Tennessee we have more than 50 parks, refuges and wildlife areas to explore, so there’s bound to be one nearby. The National Park Service is celebrating 100 years this year – look for special events! I am partial to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, but am learning to embrace nearer Middle Tennessee natural areas too, and plan to make memories at some new ones this summer.
5. Star gaze.
Before sinking into that sweet bed, step outside and look up. It’s amazing how a clear night sky can sooth a cramped, hurried soul in a manner of minutes. The twinkling expanse has a way of reminding me to take some deep breaths and just be still and know. Like ripples and leaves, the starry hosts have a way of reminding me that I am a part of something much, much bigger; it helps me let go of all the little things that choke out joy and life. Looking for constellations, I forget about cookie-cutter houses and keeping up with the Joneses and schedules and conflicts and bills and traffic and all the things.
How have you kept your sanity in a world that’s paved paradise and put up a parking lot? What would you add to this list?