Women Working in Nature and the Arts

First off, I have had some tough runs lately. I still struggle and don’t feel too past where I was late last year after finishing the c25k program. I can generally run two to two and half miles during lunch twice a week, but lately have had to sometimes walk a block or two during the run. On the weekends I strive for three miles, and this past weekend we found a beautiful place to run, Poco Trail, but I ended walking probably a quarter of a mile. We also went 3.4 miles in total, so I wasn’t too unhappy! I just don’t know why I’m struggling right now. Sometimes I have a great run, with no stops, and sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I’m trying to rationalize that running or even walking at all is good, and it is! But I really want to get back on track.

My best runs happens when my thoughts get involved in something outside what’s happening with my body. It’s funny because I am now doing yoga once a week, which is great for stretching, breathing, and strengthening muscles, but you end up paying attention to your body a lot–how it feels to breathe and what muscles feel like when they stretch. Maybe I am using those techniques to focus on my body too much when running. Although it’s great to be in tune with what’s happening, it is not good to focus on pain and struggle! So it’s very psychological sometimes, and drifting thoughts help a lot.

Not too long ago I wrote a running blog post called Home, and in it I opened up more about my family and my dad. Well, tying this in with eco-fiction, I have always done a lot of interviews with authors who write novels based on climate change and other environmental factors. A few weeks ago I noticed that I was on a roll of having these interviews, some of which are more like discussions, with women who are not only authors but are otherwise working in nature or in environmental fields. I ended up making a new series called Women Working in Nature and the Arts. This came about after interviewing a few female authors, but the new series expands past them writing novels and goes into their other works outside books or other art, like in education, field biology, or journalism.

The two most recent interviews in this series are with my niece and my daughter (and also daughter’s friend). I have constantly been amazed at these girls who grew up in my family; our shared experiences and death of my dad, their grandpa, really bonded us closer than ever, and really, we never not close–it’s just that when kids grow up, sometimes parents transition from authority to friend. I know that this has happened between my mother and me as well. Thinking of these great bonds we share really helps when running; concentrating on not just the nature around me but the cultural spirit within is a boon to running.

My interview with my niece Katie was the first family discussion I posted in the new series. Katie has been a professional photographer for years, and now is changing her lifestyle. She has sold most of her possessions and will start to travel in June with her young family; they will live in an old Airstream that they themselves are refurbishing to be ecologically as sufficient as possible (including a compost toilet). The goal is to do their art and photography on the road and share with others (blogging, Instagramming) their new adventures–thus creating an environment that is full of love, light, happiness, and simplicity when it comes to possessions.

My interview with my daughter Kris (and her friend Ashley) went up today. They are becoming seasoned hikers in the mountains of southern California. Ashley and her husband run a popular hiking blog, and my daughter has gotten involved with these hikes. The girls use stories, blogging, and photography to capture their nature hikes–some of which are grueling, several thousands of feet high.

Anyway, these women I’ve talked with are wise and beautiful. Their art and passion for the environment, and for just being out in nature, is overwhelming. It makes me feel good to ponder these women’s lives and work and art as I go about my runs, with sun above, blue mountains beyond, and green coniferous trees abounding.

To see the span of years splash by when my daughter and her little cousins (all girls!) were first crying and crawling, to now having become so into life on a big scale–and so celebratory of the outdoors–is awesome to me. It feels like a chip off the old block, even though obviously I am not mother to my nieces. But we share many common links, nature being one. Hard work and journeys being another. Exalting our passion for forests, mountains, deserts, oceans, rivers, and lakes as a result of our shared experiences having grown up in a family that raised us to respect nature is another.

I have two other nieces as well; one, Laura, is a filmmaker, who has worked with social injustice issues, particularly in sex trafficking. She also helps run the Fair for All Guide (fair trade guide). The other, Rachel, is a horse-woman! I also have some good news, pertaining to my family; my daughter got engaged over the weekend, so we are looking forward to a family reunion later this year. Also, my niece Katie will begin her Airstream journey in June, and is heading up to visit me in July. It turns out that my daughter and niece Laura will also be visiting then. This nice surprise will be filled with hikes, talks late into the night, and…red wine.