Growing up in the Pioneer Valley of Western Mass, it was easy to develop an appreciation for nature. I was fortunate to have classroom hikes and fresh picked apples. There was afternoon rowing along the Connecticut River and treks up Mt. Tom to catch a hazy autumn view. I was lucky to have access to local forests, lakes, rivers, mountains, and farms that shaped my childhood. The appreciation I have for the natural world took root at a young age. I wasn't aware of the impact it has on my health and wellbeing, however, until after my college years.
Intrigued by the science of psychology and the impacts of mental health, I left high school inspired to study the mind and brain. While in the midst of completing my college degrees in upstate New York, I found my own struggles with mental health suddenly amplify. I returned to the Valley to work after graduation, only to find my challenges had come along with me. In addition to professional support like psychotherapy, I found that mindful walks through local woods to be one of the most healing and grounding practices I could engage in. Now, even hundreds of walks later, this practice is still a meaningful and exciting part of my daily routine.
As I began to appreciate my natural surroundings in this new light, I found the natural elements - in their vast, interconnected webs and varied presentations of life and decay - to be immensely captivating. I realized I was consciously seeing certain species of birds and flowers "for the first time." It can be easy to become desensitized to the nature around us and can take time, energy, space, practice and intention to bring awareness back. But this new perspective has inspired in me a valuable sense of belonging, peace and existential meaning that I have been seeking.
I began capturing photos out of admiration for the wild around me, to reflect and learn and as a mode of self expression. I wanted to remember and share the visions, and potentially feelings, that I found to be instrumental along my lifelong journey of health and wellbeing. It is my hope that you find them supportive and inspiring for yours as well.
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