I write a lot about my deep love of nature, hiking, camping, and national park trips, and everything I design for the Dear Summit shop is an expression of that passion, but what I don’t share enough about is being a mom, and how being a work-at-home mama intersects with my love of all things outdoors.
And what I definitely haven’t shared enough about is that my husband and I are happily expecting our second baby girl, and now her due date is just a few short weeks away!
I’m a nature-loving mama, 8-months pregnant, and already fully occupied with running my creative business and raising a two-and-a-half year old. How on earth do I balance all of that?
Honestly? I don’t.
I don’t believe there is such a thing as true “work-life balance,” especially as a mom and an entrepreneur.
I’ll never be able to perfectly balance my time between all of the things I love and all the things that demand my attention. But a sort of balance can be reached, in that I do my best to be realistic about my priorities and how they relate to the time and resources I actually have. Certain things will get more of my time and attention, while others are set aside much of the time. The balance shifts around over time, as seasons change and different needs arise.
For myself and my family right now, that means that I don’t get to head outside for hiking or camping adventures anywhere near as much as I’d like. For our current season of life, that just isn’t as doable as it used to be. Will spending quality time in nature be a bigger part of our lives in the future? Absolutely! But for right now, it’s not the main emphasis.
Don’t mistake what I’m saying here; we do get outside and go on hikes. We’ve even enjoyed some fantastic trips to national parks as a family. And when this baby is soon born, we will take her out into nature before she’s a week old, if I can help it. But as a parent who wants to keep things as natural as possible in all aspects of life, I plan to breastfeed this little one, and that requires a lot of time staying put, especially early on. Thus, I’ve been thinking more than usual lately about how to get that nature fix, and it didn’t take long to find a solution:
One of my favorite ways to satisfy my nature cravings, especially when I can’t head out into the wild as much as I’d like to, is in reading. I can’t help but circle back around to the idea of losing myself in a good stack of nature-y books as I’m looking forward to again spending a large amount of my time nursing my baby. Especially in those early weeks of nursing, when sleep is particularly elusive and my energy levels extra low, I probably won’t have the energy to be “productive” and work while nursing, but if I can stay awake enough to nurse, then I should be able to turn some pages and read.
Conveniently, I already have quite a collection of nature related books sitting on my shelf, patiently waiting to be read. So now is the perfect time to dive in, and I thought I’d share my journey with you!
Here are the ten books I’m reading on my maternity leave:
Part memoir, part nature writing, and just an overall compelling story about the intersection of humans emotions and wildness animals. The Boston Globe called it, “assured, honest, and raw… a soaring wonder of a book.” I’m a few pages into this one already and I can’t wait to ride along for the rest of the story!
“Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder” is the subtitle, and if that doesn’t spark your interest as a parent or parent-to-be, then I don’t know what will. It’s like an exposé on modern childhood, and the mounting evidence that a lack of nature in childhood is directly tied to the rise in depression, obesity, and attention disorders, among other maladies - and what we can do about it.
You see his quotes all over the place on all things nature related - t-shirts, posters, mugs, and Instagram captions - but have you ever sat down with one of Muir’s books and read his work for yourself? If you have, then you know why I’m so excited about this book, but if not, then trust me when I say your future self will thank you for reading Muir. His writing is so beloved and ubiquitous for good reason.
And this book? He wrote it in 1901, when America only had four national parks: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Sequoia, And General Grant (later renamed Kings Canyon). His take on the early decades of America’s National Parks promises to be enchanting and enlightening.
”Use Outdoor Clues to Find Your Way, Predict the Weather, Locate Water, Trace Animals, and Other Forgotten Skills”
Experienced explorer and outdoorsman, Gooley shares over 850 tips in this book for forecasting, tracking, and more, using the sky, trees, animals, and more around you when you’re out in the wild. I bet there will be some fun things in there to teach my little ones, too!
Another one that I’ve already begun reading, and I’m excited to finish. The Living Mountain is a deceptively small book at only 108 pages, but it is overflowing with immense depth of thought and rich, poetic imagery of the author’s decades of adventures in the wild and rugged Cairngorm mountains of Scotland. Shepherd had a very unique approach to her nature writing that I think you’ll find challenging and refreshing - and I can’t wait to dive back in and finish this one for myself!
”The Complex World of Old-Growth Forests.”
Until recently, I thought I knew what an “old-growth forest” was; I’m learning now that they’re a lot rarer and a lot more amazing than I knew. This book is sprinkled with beautiful illustrations and I’m betting it’s even more filled with fascinating research and expertise on how these ancient and “untouched” forests show the incredible intricacy and structure that God built into his natural creation.
More Muir. :)
This books is a collection of essays and bits of Muir’s books, thoughtfully curated in a lovely hardcover volume. With some crossover from a few of Muir’s books I’ve already read (such as his Travels in Alaska and The Mountains of California), I’m curious to revisit those chapters in this new context among the pieces not found in his books.
Muir’s writing seems to be a mixture of sweeping descriptions of wild landscapes, thoughtful meditations on natural history, and entertaining stories of his wilderness explorations and mishaps. I expect nothing less from this collection.
A follow-up to Louv’s monumental book, Last Child in the Woods, this book boasts to share “500 ways to enrich the health & happiness of your family & community, and combat nature-deficit disorder.” The whole books is filled with inspiring essays, as well as tips, ideas, and activities for getting yourself, your family, and your community outdoors and into nature - for kids and adults, alike.
More trees! Can we really ever get enough about trees?
A compelling story about a small group of botanists and naturalists who explored and studied the enchanting and towering canopies of California’s Coast Redwood trees - those titan cousins of the Giant Sequoias. I’ve twice had the privilege to wander among Sequoia trees, and I’m intrigued by the adventure promised in this book about the Redwoods, too!
“Relearning Our Lost Intuition for the Inner Workings of the Natural World.”
Something like a continuation of his earlier work, The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs, Gooley explores in this book the idea that through careful observation of the natural world around us, we can “unlock” a sort of intuition or tuned-in connection with our surroundings, so that we can sense danger or direction in a seamless and natural way - without even thinking about it. Certainly sounds intriguing!
What’s your favorite way to get your nature fix when you can’t head outdoors as much as you’d like? Books? Houseplants? Share your tips and recommendations in the comments! I’d love to hear your experience, too!
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