By: Christi Granstaff 

In late May and early June 2021, much of the world was preparing to emerge from the global COVID-19 pandemic and dreaming about reuniting with family and friends, summer vacations, going back to the office, and a “normal” upcoming school year. The Center for Nature and Leadership (CNL) program, Easing Back to Life, provided me a great opportunity to be intentional about my reemergence and to be thoughtful about the parts of pandemic life that I had discovered were valuable and wanted to carry forward. Even though the surge of the Delta variant has prolonged our pandemic lifestyle, this program revealed deep inner truths and provided insights into ways to navigate this liminal space, the time between the ‘what was’ and the ‘next.’ It’s been said that liminal space is where all transformation takes place, if we learn to wait and let it form us. Here are a few reflections on my exploration of this space throughout the program.

Program participants engaged in bi-weekly group sessions, solo time in nature, guided meditations, partner walks, reflective journaling, and practices including “a praise walk, a child walk, and nature as mirror.” These experiences provided a variety of ways to deepen our connection with nature, and during our solos, provided us the opportunity to customize our experience in a way that felt most authentic to each of us.

While I enjoyed and benefited from the group sessions and partner walks, the solos became the most meaningful part of the experience for me. While it was not easy or natural for me to step away from the busyness and productivity of daily life and just be in nature, after a time or two, I began to look forward to my solo, and blocked time on my calendar, so I could truly disconnect from computer screens, meetings, and to-do lists.

What did spending time in nature teach me? Time in nature is rejuvenating and awakens my creativity. I want to continue to intentionally weave computer breaks and outdoor walks into each day.

Was I able to connect more deeply to my heart center? Thankfully, yes. Most of my days are spent leading from and acting with my head (or “the clever mind” as CNL would say). As I quieted my mind, ignited my creativity, and dropped deeper into my heart, I considered:

  • the ways strong, trusting relationships create meaning and drive progress
  • how I could infuse more of my passion for mentoring others in their growth and development into the way I show up with my colleagues
  • the importance of more self-discovery ~ who am I outside of work and who am I as a mom? What do I enjoy? What legacy do I want to leave and what should I be doing now to create that? I’m really paying attention to incorporating activities into my life that will continue to reveal answers to these questions.

Just before sitting down to write this, I went for a walk outside. I had started jotting down some notes and had made a bit of progress here and there between meetings. However, taking that walk and connecting with nature really brought clarity about what I wanted to share.

If you are interested in learning more about nature-based leadership programs, visit the Center for Nature & Leadership.