I’m Sara, I’m from a small town in central Scotland and this is my blog about finding happiness by exploring the great outdoors.
Well, I’ve been in a bit of a pit. I spent the last few years working relentlessly towards a career that led me to burn out and my wellbeing really suffered. I found the strength to get myself out of the bad situation I’d been in for so long (woo!), not realising that the hard bit was yet to come (not so woo(!)). While I’ve got rid of the cause of my fall, I’ve got a long way to climb back up. It’s like waking up from a long period of hibernation to find I’ve been transported to a foreign land where everything other than what I’d known for the past few years is in a different language. In the first few months, it felt like life was having a rave next door and I could feel the bass through the walls, hear the music in the back garden, smell the vodka even, but I was still waiting on my invite.
I had a choice. I could sit feeling miserable, isolated and wallow in regret and self-pity; or, I could start doing something to get an invite, or even better, to host my own life party.
So, what could I do? Travelling had always brought me joy, space, and perspective, so I started there and left home to explore Australia for 8-months. Drastic, but necessary.
Then, I made a big colourful list of everything I was interested in. Maybe I could get myself to a better place by exploring my list. I needed to find a new fun form of self-expression to lift me up and find my happy place again. 2019 was my year to get happy. With the luxury of space and time that travelling brings, I put happiness at the top of my agenda and dedicated myself to my happiness project.
I threw myself into my happiness project and listened to a lot of podcasts and read a lot of books and blogs of people’s stories and how they turned struggles into successes. I felt inspired and determined to do the same.
In my happiness project, I’ve tried yoga, pilates, knitting, surfing, singing, making music, boxing, dance, aerial hoop classes, water colouring, writing and re-enlisted my running shoes. Some have stuck, some lasted only a few hours (aerial hoop is not for the inflexible).
It’s not been easy, at 28, fast approaching my 30s I am struck with a daily wave of anxiety about what the hell I’m doing, why I haven’t figured my shit out yet and found my ‘thing’, or worked out how I’m going to make a dent in the world. Shouldn’t I have a solid career with a 9-5 job, a do-er-upper house and a puppy by now? Someone once told me that your twenties are the experimenting decade – time for taking leaps of faith, making mistakes, getting a radical new haircut and being a bit reckless. I have to keep reminding myself that that’s what the 20s are all about. If it takes 50 experiments in a year to find the right path, then so be it. I’ll thank myself in my 30s and beyond for taking my time, being brave in trying new things and making mistakes in my 20s.
Happiness for me is still a work in progress, I have a lot of push-ups to do to pull myself out the pit but in the process, I’m building muscles I didn’t know I had and getting stronger in ways I didn’t know I could.
Of all the activities and hobbies I’ve tried, one thing I’m always drawn back to is the outdoors. The outdoors has always been a part of my life in one way or another and is something I associate with being happy, calm and content. Hiking and trail running weekends with my friends are some of my best memories, even when life was tough.
When I was little, I loved being outside and doing things. I grew up in the countryside, and I loved exploring around where we lived and nature. Fun fact, I was the only Brownie in my club to complete the bird watching badge (because I was literally obsessed with going on big walks in the woods and would never ever forget my binoculars). I loved cycling and kayaking and was spoiled by living in a big National Park. In the summer holidays, I spent most of my time with my gran and grampa, and our daily morning ritual involved a walk round the meadows with our yappy Jack Russell, come rain or shine. Even as a teen, when my weekends revolved around drinking lambrini at house parties, I still loved getting outdoors. Nothing beats your first ever hangover than having to walk the dog on a Sunday morning! I probably didn’t realise at the time, but I was always happiest outside, even in the Scottish rain.
I started to wonder, could I re-find myself and my happiness outdoors? Well I may as well give it a try! I set myself a challenge to get outside every day for a year. It might seem a big feat to conquer but it can be anything from 10 minutes sitting on the front porch to scaling 3 Munros and wild camping. It doesn’t really matter as long as I get up, get outside and appreciate the world around me with a smile on my face.
To keep things interesting, I’m also going to try a different outdoor activity every week for a year. 52 different activities to try (right now I can’t even think of that many so suggestions welcome!). It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m excited to get stuck in and see where it takes me.
I love to write so I created Wild Mind as a fun way of documenting my outdoor adventures, big and small, and to keep myself accountable. I hope it inspires you to find your happiness outdoors too!