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Women + Wilderness 

Finding our roots in nature

How did you come to be a wilderness woman?

Here are some prompts to get you started. You can copy/paste the question you chose and write the answer below, in the boxes below.

  • Do you remember a pivotal moment where you felt truly connected/at one with nature? Can you please describe the moment?

  • What was your first introduction to being in the wilderness? How did change the way you see the world? Did you come to see yourself differently?

  • Has there ever been a moment where you felt healing in nature? How, when, where did it happen?

  • Where do you go when you feel the need to be connected to nature? What makes that place special for you?

  • Do you feel a sense of belonging, or responsibility towards the natural world? How does that feel or manifest? What do you think others could do to find something similar?

  • Can you recall a memory where you felt deeply connected to nature, was there a transcendent moment where you felt a connection to something greater?

  • Do you have a faith or spirituality which is connected to nature?

Thank you

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Sunset over the atlantic

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Steering the ship in comfort, St-Lawrence river, age 21

Photo by Amy Westman Belcher

Do you remember a pivotal moment where you felt truly connected/at one with nature? Can you please describe the moment?

 That time when I became a sailor on 24 hours notice.

When I was 21, I had just finished my BA in fine arts and I felt adrift (pun fully intended).

Not knowing what to do next in my life and career, I fell off the beaten path.

On a whim I signed up to a three mast schooner that was passing through town. The were short on crew and readily took me on despite my lack of experience. The ship felt like a temporary sanctuary for wanderers. I felt lost, but so did many of the sailors I was with.

We had a strict schedule of shifts, or watches, usually lasting between 4 and 6 hours.

The position of look out was my favourite, the job was to stand on the bow, or in the eagle's nest, watching for obstacles in our path. While  I loved the day time watch rotation, looking out to sea, the wildlife... at night is when I felt connected.

Surrounded by vast dark water, looking out from a tiny boat at light of the stars, I could see the earths rotation as time passed. I understood that I was but a grain of sand, in a vast universe. It could have made me feel small, but the opposite happened, I felt expansive, connected, awed and at one with this small, small planet, the richness within it. I felt so alive! At night is when I could felt the enormity  of merely existing. The sheer luck of drawing breath and the deep connection to... everything! Call it source, Gaia, Earth, I felt the magnetic pull and the responsibility of caring for every living being.

It made me appreciate landfall, our habitat, our home.

 

I've had similar moments in the woods as well; placing a hand on an old tree and feeling the grounding pull of the roots... the connection to the soil beneath my feet.

 

It has made me understand that we are not just on earth, we are OF the earth. We are living, breathing reflections of the tides, the seasonal changes, reflected in brief little glimmers of light. Much like the stars above that  little ship,  which was one with, the guardian of, and at the mercy, of the ocean.

I did a total of 3 trips over two years with that ship, thousands of nautical miles.

Many a night sky. 

We sailed the great lakes, the Bahamas, and the north American east coast. 

         - Julia

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