I am so excited to welcome Deirdre Denali Rosenberg to the blog this week. To be honest, my brain power for creative writing has been less than stellar over the past few weeks (months?) as we prepare for baby and all that comes with that. Her words are refreshing and inspiring for me, and I think you’ll agree!
Be sure to check her out online (all info at the bottom of this post!)
My earliest memories are from a backpack.
My earliest memories are of mountains and the tallest trees.
The sounds of rushing water and birds singing. Feeling chilly and excited and curious. My parents laughing and telling me stories, memories of the times they had before I existed.
I was born into a family who took adventure and wilderness seriously. My father was a professional mountaineer and photographer. My mother was passionate about educating me in the outdoors; knowledge of plants, animals and landscape were more important for me to know than anything else. I hiked my first mountain at four years old and from that point forward, the woods were my home. From an extremely early age I was taught to seek solitude and peace in nature, because nature would heal all things. As I grew older these lessons held true. In our travels, camping and living simply were the norm. Very rarely did we venture into cities or do “normal” things. I recall always feeling uneasy in heavily trafficked areas, seeking out small, quiet spots to get away. Sitting under trees and waiting for my parents to finish the tasks that required us to be in the cities. I was given a lot of independence from an early age. A freedom to make choices that had impact. And I never once chose to be in cities. Cities were hard.
When I was 14 I had to start high school, which meant that life changed considerably. My parents wanted me to socialize with children my own age, as opposed to the adults I was used to being around. You see, when I was a child, things like outdoor schools were uncommon. And home schooling was not an option. My father was always on a trip and my mother had her hands full. The shock of going from a life outside to a life of structure and hierarchy was too much. High school also meant that I would be going on fewer adventures and traveling much less. It was a nightmare and I acted as such. I didn’t understand why I had to address my elders as superior humans. Or follow rules, like asking to use the bathroom. It was confusing and frightening. My teenage years were a falling out of self. I became very lost. My passions and true loves were no longer a big part of my life. Instead I was expected to learn about things I didn’t care about, jump on trends and try to make friends with people who could never understand where I came from. It was hard.
While I still held nature close to my heart, and was taken on expeditions and vacations, there was still so much lack. So much expectation to just be okay with that. Living what I loved part time. Which is so very different from what I was taught as a little kid. Because what I was taught was that I could do anything- be anything. And that I should never ever give up or settle. On anything. You can imagine how strange it would be then, for me to be told I must go to school, must fit in and must care about things I deemed quite pointless- such as fashion, friends, celebrities and clubs. My life spun out of control in my teens, up until my mid twenties. When I was 25, I did a lot of soul searching. I did a lot of work. And I rediscovered my heart’s passion. What it beats for. And what I live for.
To be wild.
I very quickly made choices to change my world. I took all of my old lessons and brought them to life: I would not settle or give up. I would create the life I wanted to live or I would die trying. It’s been a few years of this attitude, and so much work. But things are going right. I am on track to being a full-fledged wild woman. Living in the mountains at 9,200ft, prioritizing photography and adventure over punching a clock and living as intentionally as I possibly can. It’s a daily practice of choosing to follow my heart over what is easy. And this rediscovery of self has been extremely rewarding. My mission in life has become inspiring women to live wildly and to find inspiration through nature. My upbringing has never been more important and it took years of struggle to appreciate my childhood.
I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned through this process of growing up in a nature setting and how it’s translated into womanhood.
- Seek solitude. During times of big emotions, whether they are positive or negative feelings, find some time to be alone. This helps to clear the mind of distractions and allows one to get in touch with the root of these feelings.
- Get back to basics. Food, water, clothing, shelter and love. Of course there are so many important things in life to worry yourself about! But it’s important to keep it simple. What humans really need to thrive are just a few basic things. Everything else can be such a distraction from happiness.
- Move your body. Do it often and do it in nature. The trees, critters and clean air soothe the soul. Even if all you can muster is a short walk, make it happen. In times of stress this is most important. Humans are meant to move. It makes us happy.
- Live the life you want. There is no box. There are no limits. Find your passion and chase it down like the last train in the night. Don’t listen to what others say and don’t be swayed. Your intuition knows what’s best for you! It’s hard work and it’s worth it.
- Listen to the wilderness. See how it all works together. Everything effects everything. All wild things, be it animals or plants, rocks or water, they flow. They evolve. Take note and do the same. Life never goes as expected, and how you react is up to you.
Rediscovering what makes my heart beat, what awakens my soul and what it means to feel freedom has been an incredible journey and transformation. My childhood was beautiful and adventurous and a crash course in taking care of myself. Of knowing responsibility and that actions have an outcome that cause impacts big and small. It taught me in my earliest years how to self-soothe and find peace. It taught me respect of our wilderness and how to be curious. All traits that show up as an adult.
I urge any parents to let their kiddos run free in the wilderness. To teach them to respect our land and appreciate it. To pass the torch that burns for conservation. To let them be kids: playful, energetic and silly. In nature we can be who we are. Animals. How cool is that?
I am a writer, photographer, mountaineer and explorer. My aim is to inspire women to get outside and to feel empowered. When I’m not at my cottage nestled in the Rocky Mountains, you can find me on a wild adventure, hosting an event or teaching a clinic. My work can be found at www.LetsPlayInstead.com or on Instagram @dededenali