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Podcast Episode #11: How Nature Can Help You Feel Less Anxious and More Connected – with Ellie Smart, Nature Photographer

Guest: Ellie Smart, Nature Photographer, and Quiet Connections Community Engagement Manager

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Transcription

Stacie Clark
Hello, welcome back to the Quiet Connections podcast with me, Stacie and Hayley.

Do you ever catch yourself just getting lost in the moment, staring up at the sky and watching the clouds float by? Or listening to the leaves as they rustle in the wind? How about following the path of a raindrop as it trickles down your window after it’s been raining outside. I know I used to love doing that in car journeys when I was a child. And in those quiet moments, you feel calm, stillness, peace. Your busy mind silences and you’re able to breathe.

Nature has this amazing way of igniting our curiosity, pulling us into all it’s a wonder and drawing us out of that internal chatter, and our tensed up bodies. We can’t deny that as humans were fascinated by nature. We love watching nature documentaries –  and even more so and they are narrated by David Attenborough. You know it’s true. We flock to parks in summertime to chill and to play and we crave those warm beaches to get away, catch a break, to rest.

Now, we’re quite lucky being here in Cornwall, we’re surrounded by miles of gorgeous coastline, and as a rural county, wild spaces are not hard to come by. But even if you live in the city or a more builtup area, nature is still always around you. Whether that’s a park or in your garden or even just bringing some plants into your home. We can all reap the benefits of spending time with nature.

In today’s episode, we chat with our nature loving, Community Engagement Manager Ellie Smart, who shares her experiences and explorations of nature and how they’ve helped her to ease anxious feelings, anxious thoughts, and instead feel more grounded and more confident in her own self, so that she felt more able to let go of the fears of judgement in social situations, and courageously show up as herself. Safely knowing that she already belongs.

But first, Hayley, you’ve trained recently in something quite special, haven’t you? Which has bought some amazing insights, learnings and practices back into the support that we offer here at QC. Would you mind sharing what that is and, and what the science is behind it?

Hayley Stanton
I’ve trained as a Blue Health Coach, which is an approach to coaching developed by my very good friend, Lizzi Larbalestier, who is an awesome coach and an ocean advocate. Science has long told us that nature is healing, that is restorative. And blue health coaching takes this further, exploring our relationship with the natural environment, and specifically blue spaces, and how we can partner with this environment to create change both internally within ourselves. And also for the greater good of the whole ecosystem. Because as we know, everything we do or don’t do has a ripple effect that touches the people around us and the wider environment too.

So you know, we don’t operate or exist in isolation. And even though it feels that way, sometimes when we feel stuck in our heads or when we’re feeling anxious, rejected, overwhelmed, or even small and insignificant. And I think that nature has a wonderful way of reminding us and helping us to see for ourselves that we are important and beautiful and unique and worthy, just as much as any other aspect of nature. And in fact, we’re all connected, we are nature. When we’re in natural environments, physical changes automatically happen in our bodies. We can release uncomfortable feelings in the breeze through breath and movement. We get really present in the now, we engage all of our senses and create a gentle fascination. Or a sense of, or an appreciation within us, that raises our energetic vibration and has the potential to transform our sense of belonging in the world, we can deepen the connection that we have with ourselves.

And we can access new insights and wisdom from within that we couldn’t get to before and maybe didn’t even know was there. And this is why I value nature nourishment as a way to to nourish ourselves mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. And of course, the more connected we feel with nature, the more we care for it, and make conscious pro social environmental choices, which, incidentally, also gives us a sense of purpose and significance and meaning in life. And isn’t that what we’re all searching for?

Stacie Clark
Oh absolutely. 100%.

So, let’s dive into our chat with Ellie, shall we? And find out more about the power of nature and how it can benefit you.

QC dream team here today.

Hayley Stanton
Wooo

Ellie Smart
Yay

Stacie Clark
Ellie, you’re Quiet Connections Community Engagement Manager. And some of you may already feel like you know Ellie from seeing her popping up on the Quiet Connections app, and on Facebook and Instagram. You’ve been sharing some wonderful videos and posts lately Ellie, they’ve been so so great to hear, and to read.

So for those who perhaps don’t know you, and are new to Quiet Connections, would you mind sharing a little bit about who you are? And what brought you to Quiet Connections?

Ellie Smart
Yeah, absolutely. So I think I was always quite shy when I was growing up, or I felt very shy, very quiet in general. And that kind of carried on throughout, probably up into my 20s, but it was when I met Haley at a like business thing. And I think we kind of connected there because Hayley was just starting Quiet Connections

Hayley Stanton
Yeah I think it was just an idea.

Ellie Smart
I think, Hayley, I think you probably approached me because I was refusing to put my hand up, and my little tutory person was like “What are you doing?”

So that was kind of how I came to know Quiet Connections. And then obviously I followed Hayley and her progress with Quiet Connections for a little while. And then when it got started a little more, I started to run a few workshops or workshops, little community engagement activities, which are really fun. Yeah, so that was kind of how I started to know Quiet Connections.

But I think, generally a little bit more about me. I really struggled to communicate with people verbally, I’m not very great or at writing, I sort of really struggled with that. So it was kind of in my late teens, I started to discover photography quite a lot and I used that as a medium to kind of not only express myself but to start telling stories. So I went more down the photojournalism route because I found that it’s a really really good way to tell other people’s stories as well, especially because I wanted to get to know these people. But I was too shy to ask them questions.. So I just kind of documented their life. And that would be my way of kind of learning about them. And it also felt like I was giving them a platform to tell their story. So that was a really useful tool for me.

And then, sort of as more time went by, I started to focus on different projects. And it wasn’t until I started focusing on Paganism, especially in Cornwall because we are a very sort of ancienty kind of county.

Stacie Clark
A lot of history.

Ellie Smart
Yes, yeah. That was when I started to connect with sort of modern day Pagans. And it was their connection with nature that really started to inspire my own connection with nature. You know, I’ve always loved nature I always found that it was massively useful and helpful to me. You know, the amount of times I’ve been stressed and I just have to get out like even If it’s just 10 minutes out in the garden, or whatever, I think it just grounds you again. And then it was, it was watching these deeper connections with nature from other people, that I thought “Wow that’s really like really cool”. So that was how I started to get into the nature side of things and I started to sort of naturally develop my own connections.

I think for me, listening was a big one. I just used to like sitting there, and just listening because, the amount of time we just block things out, that we don’t really notice. You know I can. I’m very lucky I can hear the see from my garden, but the amount of times you just ignore it because, it’s just a background noise, but when you actually tune in and start to listen to all these little sounds that’s what really started to make me think. This is so cool. There’s like all these little birds around and, you know, like, hearing different noises, and little insects and things that you don’t notice in the summer. And then you start to look for them, and you start to see the details, that something’s like so small and it kind of yeah. It made you feel like you kind of you could sit there and be a part of something without having to physically contribute. Which I think now, nowadays we’re made to feel like we have to constantly do something or constantly be something. But just being able to just be and listen and look at things and observe It kind of made you feel like you’re there somewhere but without doing stuff.

Stacie Clark
There’s so much beauty in what you just said then, from your journey into photography and how that was a tool for communicating and telling other people’s stories. But also a way for you to feel like you’re getting to know other people, and, and then like that transition into the connection with nature as well. To me, what it sounded like, is that there’s like this theme of observing with you. And this sense of like your here to listen, and to observe and to watch what’s going on? And how do you feel like that ties into those of us who like quieter?

Ellie Smart
Absolutely, I think, generally as quieter people we, we do tend to observe more because, whether we mean to or not, we, we’re always looking for that kind of opportunity, I guess to either say what we want to say or trying to connect with other people. So I think we tend to have a good skill of observing things around us and I think as well as quieter people, we tend to be more in tune with other people emotions and feelings. Because we observe so much, we start to sort of, be able to read people very I, I think very well and quite quickly as well. Sometimes you can just pick up what people are feeling just by observing.

Stacie Clark
I completely agree, I think it’s one of our superpowers is that, yeah, we are watching so much and seeing what’s going on, and I think taking in so much information and things that other people are missing and within that, there is so much wisdom and beauty and gifts that were holding that we, that I suppose, like we’re here to kind of share with the world. I we find ways to help us express those in ways that feel comfortable and it sounds like photography and nature. are those things that have really kind of connected you to being able to express those parts of yourself?

Ellie Smart
Yeah, absolutely. I think like you said It is one of our superpowers to be able to observe so much and I think if people can find a medium to express themselves through that and you know, whether it’s crafts or photography or music. I think it’s it’s really good to be able to have a platform form where you just feel like you can be you and express those observations that you feel in everyday life.

Hayley Stanton
I think firstly we really need to recognise the beauty of our quietness and I certainly was going around rejecting myself because I felt like I wasn’t good enough because I was too quiet. And when we met, yeah, we were on a business course exploring setting up our own independent businesses. And at that point I was still like, I don’t think I can do this because I don’t think I’ve got it in me. I’m not the right kind of person and obviously naturally I was drawn to you Ellie because you qqually gave me the quiet vibes, and that made me feel really safe and like we connected immediately. But actually, I really struggled to talk to a lot of people in that environment.

Ellie Smart
I think those those kind of environments can be so intimidating, can feel intimidating when you’re in them. You know, you got you’ve got a lot of different people around you that you’ve never met before. And it can be like, Oh my gosh, like, again, you so you end up sort of not taking in half of the information as well, because you’re just more worried about what people are gonna think about you. So you’re like, I think,

Hayley Stanton
Yeah, you’re sitting there in that fight flight mode.

Ellie Smart
Yeah, absolutely. And then they ask you a question. You’re like, I don’t actually know what’s going on. Way too preoccupied. Yeah, so I think it was good to be able to relate to you “Not Alone” and that I think discovering what you were doing as well was really interesting, sort of like oh my gosh, this is like so incredibly helpfu,l yeah I’m so glad that you continued to carry on.

Hayley Stanton
Thank you and I’m really grateful that, how you’re bringing this nature connection, this encouraging people to really nourish themselves through connecting with nature into quiet connections, because firstly you’re so brilliant at it, and you wouldn’t have any idea that you have struggled communicating in the past, the way that you do it, you are just so at home and comfortable in your element. And I think that that connection with nature can be really useful for connecting with yourself and really learning to appreciate those quiet strengths, because when you look around in nature, there’s quiet and stillness everywhere. And we’re really drawn to it and we really appreciate it. Yet, that’s the very same thing that we seem to be rejecting in ourselves.

Ellie Smart
Absolutely. I think it’s so amazing the amount of times that people say I just want a bit of peace and quiet. And I just want to you know, sit in the middle of a field and not think about anything. It’s like, so what’s wrong with being quiet if all we crave is quiet?

Stacie Clark
So true.

Ellie Smart
Everyone wants this quiet life. But, but yeah, in ourselves, we’re like oh, we mustn’t be quiet and it’s like, No, we should. It’s amazing. It’s so lovely.

Yeah and I think natures got, definitely that power to be able to help us connect with things. I think the amount of like, you said the amount of things we look at in nature that are still and are quiet, we notice those times of movement and we notice those times of stillness and how that changes all the time as well. It’s a very, you know fluid thing and I think it’s the same as ourselves.

Although we can feel very quiet sometimes, there’s also times when we want to feel, expressive, I think that’s totally okay. We sometimes will put ourselves in this quiet box. And we’re like okay, we are quiet so everyone thinks we’re quiet so we should be quiet. But I think there are times where we go actually I would you know, I wouldn’t mind doing this today and it’s not me as such, as what people think of me, but I want to give it a go and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I think we need to sort of relate to nature in that sense and realise it’s okay, we can do the louder things as well if we want to, and feel comfortable doing that.

Hayley Stanton
Stacie, do you want to pick up on that because you said something the other day about feeling like you don’t necessarily fit into quiet as well because there are times when you’re loud?

Stacie Clark
Yeah, it’s such an interesting dynamic, isn’t it like I feel like so many of us received that message growing up that it’s not okay to be quiet but it’s also not okay to be loud. And I know for me personally like there are there are people within my life, who have been friends with for a very long time and who would in no way describe me as being a quiet person, but more of, an expressive person. I quite like that word actually in terms of like I say being ‘louder’ in air quotes, but actually it’s, it’s about you, you being comfortable with who you are and actually just being comfortable enough to share and to talk and to, talk about the things that you’re interested in. And so there are people that would describe me like that, but there are also people who do describe me as being very quiet. And as the person who just sits there and listens to what’s going on and doesn’t always contribute much to a conversation, but I’m still a part of that, but I’m in that more observant state which, you know, I feel like we all have both these these aspects and qualities within us. And yeah, growing up it was quite confusing. And I feel because I was like I’m not allowed to be loud. I’m not allowed to be quiet, both feel shameful. So who am I supposed to be? How am I supposed to act? How am I meant to operate and function in this world when I’m being told that both are wrong?

So it’s, I feel like when you’re kind of stuck in that, in that limbo state, almost, it’s, you know that, that can drive a lot of disconnection with who you are, because, if you’re focused so much on, I suppose all those messages of like it’s so wrong to be both these things and therefore I can’t be anything, your only option is to just basically not exist. That sounds quite dramatic. But that’s, that’s kind of what it feels like.

So yeah, I feel like there is this, this dynamic to explore the between acceptance in both, and finding that, that acceptance, and feeling that acceptance within ourselves and also recognising, like you said earlier, I like the term that you used there about us being fluid, because we are fluid. You know, we’re not the same in every single moment or situation. There are moments that bring out the side of us that is more curious. the side of us that’s more expressive, the side of us that is more observing or, you know, all these different facets and angles of us. So it’s, it’s it’s important to, to recognise that within ourselves and find acceptance of that.

Hayley Stanton
Yeah, as human beings we’re made up mostly of water. How can we not be fluid? How can we not have that dynamic. I think we’re living in a society that does like to put us in boxes, put us in the shy box, put us in the loud box, you know, we’re either introvert or extrovert. And like you say Stacie, we’ve got all of these qualities within us.

Stacie Clark
Yeah. That’s just a reminded me, as you were saying that,  I just had this image of like the sky. And in terms of like some days like, the sky is really still, it’s really quiet. There’s no clouds. And then other days, like it’s raining, and there’s wind. Sometimes it’s, it’s just completely different like it never stays the same. And the same with trees. Some days, the trees are still and they’re quiet and they’re not making a sound and some days they’re rustling, and they’re almost like communicating with us and singin a song and you know.

Hayley Stanton
Yeah, and watch nature shows us, is that these qualities don’t exist in isolation. You know, we don’t have light without shade. We don’t get noise without quiet, or movement without stillness. They exist in perfect harmony together, just as they do inside of you and me. So what we think of as an introverted or extroverted personality is actually far more fluid just as the tide comes in and goes back out. The way we show up in the world can ebb and flow too.

Ellie Smart
Oh absolutely, you know anything you observe, any creature, you’ll either, sometimes you’ll hear it before you see it or you won’t see it at all, and we will only hear it. So it’s got that sort of again, that loud mixed with stillness. Then you’ve also got the times where, you might if you’re lucky see a creature, might run across the path or whatever but you will not hear a sound at all. And it’s kind of, that those two opposing things of it being sort of, can either be really loud, and still hidden or the opposite where it’s it’s dead quiet, and still moving. And I think it’s really cool to see. You can look at a black bird in your garden. And it will sit there silently. You might not notice it, itmight be in the hedge, where they’re nesting or something, but if you go outside at sort of nine o’clock at night and it’s pitch black, they’re normally the ones that are still going, crawling around talking to you. really loudly and I think it’s Yeah, it’s really Interesting I think just how nature again takes those moments where It wants to be loud and be quiet.

I think as well it obviously to creature aswell it relates to the safety aspects. You know, it knows when to be quiet because it feels safer and sometimes we can, I think we can do that in ourselves. We know when we want to sort of feel comfy and safe. So we, we tend to become more inward. And the times where we feel like we can express ourselves often the times we feel sort of, you know more comfortable to do so. I think yeah, it’s interesting that clearly somewhere along the line we’ve we’ve adapted that from nature too.

Stacie Clark
Oh wow. I mean we nature aren’t we, there’s, there’s no question about that. We are, we are one with nature, we are one of the same.

Hayley Stanton
I find that really Interesting that when we feel socially anxious, we feel like we’re so, so isolated, that we are so seperate. When we go outdoors, when we connect with nature, then it really reminds us that we’re not alone. We are connected. We’re connected to the plants, and the trees, and we’re connected to the sea. And like you say exactly that we are nature. We see ourselves as say, separate from it sometimes, but we are no different than any other animal, we are made of the same stuff as the sand and the sea and the stars, and wow, isn’t that amazing? Like, we are just as amazing as those things.

Stacie Clark
This reminds me of a moment I had, it was about a year and a half ago. And I was, I was going through a bit of a rough patch, and was feeling quite low and, andwas just feeling very disconnected actually. And I just watched this documentary on, I think it was called the rock, it was, I think it was on Netflix. And it was about, you know, the planet and our connection with like space and all that stuff. And that was the first time that I learned that we are genuinely made of the same stuff as stardust. And for starters that was just like, wow, I am made of the same stuff as the stars, how amazing is that. And then the following day, I went out for a run. And as I kind of got into the flow of running, and I was like focusing on my breathing, and I was just in that moment, this bird flew past me. I just had this really overwhelming feeling of like connection, and was just like, oh my god, I’m the same as that bird. Like, me and the bird and made of the same things. We are the same, we’re connected, oh my god, I’m connected to the to the ground that I’m running on. And it was just this amazing, like, it doesn’t really have words to describe like how deep that feeling of connection was of like, wow, I am a part of all of this. Everything. Like we’re all so interconnected. We’re all. Yeah, it was just it was just like, amazing. I think I almost cried.

Hayley Stanton
That is beautiful Stacie. And when you think about it, that’s what we’re really searching for, that sense of belonging, a place where we can be who we really truly are. And, you know, we have it already. We just need to be with it.

Ellie Smart
Yeah absolutely.

Hayley Stanton
I think what can often get in the way is that we very much live in a culture that values rational thinking, logical thinking and undervalues the connection that we have with our own inner wisdom with our bodies. Which by the way, science shows doesn’t just come from the brain in our heads. It turns out that our hearts and our guts function as intelligent communicating brains too and our intuition has been proven to be equally as valid in decision making as the brain in our heads.

Ellie Smart
Yeah.

Hayley Stanton
However, we tend to overlook what we know deep down to be true and look for external cues as to who we should be and how we should show up. And this is what you were talking about earlier, Stacie, when you were saying about whether you should be this quiet person, or be this loud person. And that’s head based thinking that’s totally excluding everything that you know, to be true for you at your core. Everything that you know, in your body, right?

Stacie Clark
Yeah it’s so, what’s the, what’s the term, like, separated? Isn’t it almost as, you’re either one or the other. There’s no,  I’m doing hand movements here that none of you can see on the podcast.

Ellie Smart
I guess it’s always that thinking of like, what you are, rather than who you are. You’re just focused on like, what you should be or you know, whether you should be loud or you should be quiet rather than focusing on the actual sort of integral part of who you are. Which is very different from how you come across.

Stacie Clark
And Ellie how has, like your explorations of nature kind of helped you connect to, to that part of of who you are?

Ellie Smart
I think for me, it almost started as a mindfulness activity. Without knowing it, I think a lot of the time I was doing these things but I had no idea what I was doing. You know, I was I was walking to the beach at midnight, just because I felt like it. I knew there’ll be no one around. And I used to sit down and I remember once sitting there and I could hear all these noises. And I was like Oh, what is this? And I turned my torch on. And it was just like, hundreds of little crabs. And it was just like woah this is so cool. And like any problems that I was feeling or, you know, any worries that I had. I just instantly they were gone. It was just like Whoa, look at this cool nature around me. This is so awesome. And then you just go back and you feel so, so relieved that, you know, you realise you’re part of something so much bigger, you know, these little worries that you have, those crabs, they’re just worried about having some food tonight, like, I don’t need to worry about all these other things. But, you know, sometimes you, you dwell on and you, I don’t have the right words for it, but you make it so much worse in your own heads than it actually is.

And I think sometimes it would just pull me out of that state and make you realise, okay, this is what’s happening. You know, worrying about it, this much isn’t going to change it. And I think going out and connecting with nature in those little ways would help me think kind of step back almost and be like, Okay, look at the, I guess the basics of life and how that’s functioning. And then focus on that. Focus on sort of your needs. And try not to worry about those other little things that keep creeping in.

Yeah, so I think it was it started off with mindfulness activity. And then I remember with the with the listening again. I don’t know why I was so fascinated by this listening thing. But I remember sitting my friend down once, we were both at the beach and I just said to her try and listen to everything that’s going on right now. And I always found that quite hard to do because I would hate talking about things, about like, anything that was slightly in depth.

Stacie Clark
Sense of vulnerability there, yeah.

Ellie Smart
Yeah And she did, and she was just like, Woah that’s really difficult to do, like, there’s all these layers that you know you do subconsciously block out. You know whether it was the sound or sound of the sea or you know, birds flying past or there was a child playing somewhere, she could, she was starting to hear all these things as well and was like, Whoa it’s it’s this really interesting connection that we just are so in tune to block out nowadays. So I think that was, yeah, it started off with these little, little connections was almost mindfulness activities to get myself out of my current sort of what I was feeling And then as I was doing so I sort of became more and more passionate about nature, I wanted to know like, Well, why is that bird here at this certain time? What is that mushroom over there and things like that. So I think it was that. But kind of started to drive me more and more into relating with nature. Yeah. And sort of figuring out what what’s the sort of more more to than just us and how we can become, I think like we were saying before, how we are part of nature and how we can become one with nature again.

Hayley Stanton
Nature has the wonderful way of bringing us into the present allowing us to drop down from our heads, reconnecting with our bodies, our senses and when, we when we really connect with nature, amazing things happen to our bodies. Our breath rate changes, our heart rate changes. We move differently. It releases different neuro-chemicals and hormones within us. And that totally shifts the anxiety response that we might be having at that time and takes us into a place where we can be calmer, and we can be more, aligned, and connected with ourselves we can make decisions from a much much wiser place. I had to make decision on a house recently, I went and viewed the house and my partner said to me, I want to buy it, and I was like I need to go to the sea, and we need a walk to think about it, like just very naturally we’re drawn to the sea and there’s so much science out there that shows how true this is, how connected to the sea we are and how beneficial it is to be in blue and green spaces.

Have you come across Nature Deficit Disorder?

Ellie Smart
No.

Hayley Stanton
So being disconnected from nature can actually result in changes in how we use our senses. And we can end up living in a more kind of disconnected, dialled out, way. Really focusing inwards, and it can also relate to difficulties with attention and distraction too.

Stacie Clark
That’s fascinating.

Ellie Smart
That makes so much sense though.

Stacie Clark
It feels like it’s coming back to what you were just saying there Hayley about the changes that nature can have on our nervous system. And as you were just saying that, I’m sitting here thinking about how, back then you were just talking about the attention deficit disorder, because, that feels very true for me. But just in terms of like how focused I feel like I’ve been for most of my life, just on like that internal chatter, and how much attention is just turned into like, turned onwards onto like all the all the thoughts that are like racing through my, through my head, and I find that when I go outside Like you were saying Ellie, like the listening, and when you take that time to sit there in nature and just listen to what’s going on, like it takes you out of that space.

So how, how, how have these practices, that you, you’ve been doing in nature over the last few years, helped you in terms of managing any anxiety or anxious feelings or self doubting thoughts?

Ellie Smart
Again, I think it’s going out into nature is Like you’re kind of saying It tunes you into, everything that surrounds you, it puts everything into perspective. It’s not just you know It gets those thoughts of of sort of turning everything internal, it makes you kind of realise the external world around you. And I think we’re like we were saying nowadays it can be particularly difficult. We’ve got so much technology and it’s so hard to know You know even when you go out for a walk, you want to check your phone all the time and you want to see what’s going on around you, you feel like you almost have to be doing something constantly. You can’t just can’t just be. And I think by sort of going out in nature and practising just observing, which you know, as we were saying that quiet people are really quite good at it. If by doing that you end up taking yourself out of your inward thoughts and just letting yourself be within the nature around you. I think what I’ve always found really useful with nature as well is the fact that we’re often very worried about what people are thinking about us and being judged. Things like that and when you sit within nature you don’t have that judgement. You know, the animals, not going to care what you look like. It doesn’t care what you’re thinking. It just wants to whether you’re safe and if it can get past. Or whether it’s just going to turn around and go the other way. I think it’s I’ve always found that really useful because I think especially, generally as a teenager, it’s really really difficult because you’re so focused on those social aspects of what other people are thinking of you, how you’re acting and how you should be acting. What we should be saying and what you should be liking. By going out into nature, you just get this almost break, of I don’t have to do any of that. And I think for me, the more I’ve gone out into nature and the more I’ve done that it’s made me realise that don’t have to do any of that in normal life anyway.

Hayley Stanton
Yeah, it’s just a story we tell ourselves.

Ellie Smart
Yeah, exactly. And that you know, I don’t have to dress a certain way. You know I don’t have to be a certain way. I can be how I am with nature with everyone else, cause you know I think, I’ve discovered that,  if I can Like that, that makes me who I am or I feel like that’s who I am, at that point in time and if I I can just be like that around people, that I’m close to, if they like it and that’s, that’s great. But if they don’t then that’s okay too. That’s, you know, I think we’re not going to get on with every one and that’s fine. I think it’s just finding those connections with people that you do connect with. Sort of that’s the important part to me. You know I think being who you are, and finding those connections is important, rather than your sort of unauthentic self connecting with people because you feel like you should.

Hayley Stanton
Yeah and try to show up in a way that you think they want you to show up rather than showing up as you truly are. Like you do when you’re connecting with nature. And I love how nature can shift your perspective and I mean when we’re sitting with nature, we’re not judging nature. You know. I was watching a David Attenborough programme the other night and up close, he was sharing these like little pictures of fire ants and things. And there are so cute up close and like little frogs.

Stacie Clark
And amazing.

Hayley Stanton
Yeah, absolutely fascinating. And it’s like, well, if we can see the beauty in those things, by getting closer and really seeing the detail, then we can see the beauty in every other human being, and they can see the beauty in us by getting closer and seeing the detail.

Stacie Clark
And also the fact that like every, like when you watch those, those nature programmes and stuff. Like, I feel like a really important lesson that we start to learn and to recognise is that every living creature on this planet has a purpose. And it’s doing its own thing because it connects with what’s important for like another creature to survive or another animal to survive or another plant to survive and, like when, when you can start to see that like every thing every living being every living creature. Like is here for, to serve like that one little purpose and stuff, like to me that feels like such an important thing to recognise because it makes me question like, well if that’s true for these tiny little ants, or even like there’s tiny little microorganisms that live in, in the ocean and stuff. Then, the same must be true for me as well, like,

Hayley Stanton
Yeah

Stacie Clark
I’m here for a reason I’m here because I have a purpose and, and the world comes into balance when I step into who I truly am because that is my soul purpose there’s nothing else, more to it.

Hayley Stanton
Absolutely.

Ellie Smart
Yeah, I think that’s so true. I know for a long time. You know, saying about how like ecosystems work and how things are reliant on each other. I got this impression that humans, you know, we’re told that we aren’t the greatest for nature. Because of what we’re doing sort of environmentally using fossil fuels and plastic and things like that. And for a long time I’d got it into my head that, you know, well, I’m a very destructive force within nature so why should I be here, why should I use those resources for, like nature could use resources that I’m using instead of me using them. But I’ve got this very negative way of thinking into my head. But then I think the more I started to connect with nature. I realised I don’t, I’m not a negative force, I am, you know, we can choose to help nature instead. You know, like you said, we do have a purpose, with on this planet. Otherwise why would we be here. It is finding that, sort of, our true selves to find that kind of placement of where we should be. Yeah, and I think that became a very sort of enlightening moment for me about realising that. No, I should be here, and I have a right to be here, and that’s okay.

Stacie Clark
I feel like that’s such a beautiful reflection of where so many of us are, Ellie, in terms of like we may start with this, like, almost a sense of like our being is destructive that we’re not worthy we’re not deserving, we can’t, you know, we don’t deserve to receive love or compassion, or everything that we do is just destroys or ruins things around us, I know I certainly felt that way. You know that if we take for example, the way in which we tend to perceive making mistakes, we view them as being things that are destructive that they ruin things that it creates failure that, you know, it has negative impact and things like that. Whereas, actually that’s not true, you know, mistakes are about learning mistakes are about growing they’re about evolving and things like that, so when we, just what you were saying there, in there in terms of like when you shifted your own perspective of how you even related with nature. That feels very true for like how we can start to shift our own perspective around how we’re relating to ourselves as well.

Hayley Stanton
Yeah,

Ellie Smart
Yeah, definitely.

Hayley Stanton
Yeah, we can stand on a beach, and feel entirely insignificant in the world because we are so small in comparison to our environment and the sea and the beach that we stood on. Or we can stand on the beach, and feel how connected we are how a part of something we are and how every thing that we do makes a difference. You know, we can go on a beach and pick up a few pieces of litter. And we’re making a massive difference in that moment to, you know, that marine animal that could have been severely injured by that piece of litter. Everything that we do has an impact in the world. And we are valuable, just because we exist just because we are part of this ecosystem, just as we are.

Stacie Clark
Aww, I can’t remember where I heard this or if I read it in a book but within the last week, I heard a story. Oh no, sorry I was on a workshop. I was on a workshop. One of 4Motions workshops actually, it was on Saturday. And she told this story of this man who was standing on a beach, and I think all these crabs had been like washed up onto, onto the shore, and this one man was standing there and he was throwing crabs back into back into the sea. So there’s that hundreds of crabs on the beach and this other guy comes up to him and says, like, why are you doing that, like, you can’t save all these crabs you can’t make a difference. So what’s the point in doing it. And there’s one like the guy who was throwing the crabs and like picks up another crab threw it in the back, like threw it back into the sea and was like, made a difference to that one. So, it’s like, that’s what counts. Like all these small little differences, like the small little impacts that we can make like those are the things that matter the most. And, you know, with time if you think like how many small little moments you have throughout your life. By the end of, end of all of that and even, by the time we add up every single human being on this planet. All those small, small moments that we might perceive as being insignificant actually add up to be a huge thing.

Ellie Smart
Yeah, absolutely. And I think as well sometimes when we are doing small things. We, you know, if you look at people sometimes that you admire, or inspire you. You can think, oh, gosh, I’m never going to be like that, like, look at how much they can achieve in a day. That’s amazing. But we don’t realise that actually all these little things that we’re doing are just as amazing. And, you know, like you said they build up and they add up. And I think that’s something we need to remember that it’s the small acts do become the big ones eventually. Yeah.

Stacie Clark
Absolutely. Okay.

So just to start bringing this to close, and this has been such a wonderful, wonderful conversation. Ellie, if you could send a message back to your younger self, what would you say?

Ellie Smart
That is a good question. I would probably say, just don’t worry about what other people are thinking about you. I think when I was younger I was very introverted and very or felt very introverted and felt very insular and unconnected. And I think that was again because I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to be a certain way. In order to fit in. But I think. Yeah, I would probably tell myself, you know, don’t, don’t worry about that just be you, and sort of just be, just do what you enjoy, and you will eventually connect with the people that are right for you. I’d probably also tell myself to get out in nature, slightly earlier than I did.

Stacie Clark
What a wonderful message. And if you had just one last little bit like words of kindness that you can send out to everyone in our quiet community, what would that be?

Ellie Smart
I would probably just say, keep, keep going, keep being you. You know, I think, as we’ve discussed during this podcast we’ve all got these wonderful little quirks about us but we’re all great in different ways. And I’d also say again try and, try and get out into nature and just listen and watch and see how it shifts your own feelings and see if that helps you at all.

Stacie Clark
So we got quite deep there in that conversation didn’t we? And I just loved it, and I really hope that you’ve all been able to take away something that really helps you to reflect on your own relationship with nature and how you can bring more of that into your daily life and into your daily practices to help you connect with, with yourself and with the environment around you and to really feel that sense of purpose, and that, that sense of, you know, you really do already belong, there’s no question about that.

And as always, we’d love to invite you to come and join us on the Quiet Connections App and be a part of our quiet community where you can maybe share your thoughts around nature and how you’re already using it and how it’s already benefiting you and, just join others in some of our virtual quiet gatherings and community activities that we’re doing. Where we are encouraging you to get out in nature, and I know Ellie’s got some more wonderful ideas in the pipeline for some, for another nature nourishment weekend and some mindful photography activities and practices that we can all do, so please do come join us over there and be a part of this wonderful quiet community.

And in the meantime, stay connected.

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