Our monthly offerings for fall/winter of 2017

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Along with sharing reflections, this blog also serves the purpose of providing a platform to describe what we are offering to the community. Thus, we announce our

Monthly Outdoor Reflection Series

In this series, we will offer supportive facilitation to assist with grounding and centering in several beautiful natural settings. This will involve periods of movement (walking and/or gentle grounding exercises), periods of quiet reflection and/or exploration, and periods of optional sharing and reflecting with one another.

You are welcome to come to all 4 meetings in the series or just 1; we encourage you to do what feels right and manageable to you.

“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.” -John Muir

Monthly Reflection Meetings for 2017:

Monday, September 18, 2017, 6 – 8pm:  Beginning the week with intention

Description: We will meet at the beautiful 120-acre Scioto Audubon Metro Park and together slowly unwind from the day through grounding and centering exercises, reconnect with our natural landscape surrounding and within us, and notice what natural intentions emerge.

Sunday, October 22, 2017, 3 – 5pm:   Autumn Reflection

Description: Amid colorful fall foliage, shale bluff, ravines, and tributary streams of Highbanks Metro Park, we will invite you to explore and ground in your own internal autumn – noticing and embodying our own processes of releasing and letting go.

Sunday, November 19, 2017, 3 – 5pm:  Gratitude & Renewal

Description: This will be a time in which we will welcome the creation of a restorative space together at Batelle Darby Creek Metro Park, facilitating an opportunity to more deeply connect with that which we carry within our bodies and spirits that resource us with vitality, strength, and peace.

Thursday, December 21, 2017, 6 – 8pm: Winter Solstice candlelight celebration

Description: This celebration of light and darkness, both within and surrounding us, will take place in the outdoor courtyard at 1550 Old Henderson Road, followed by shared reflection, nourishment, and tea in the warmth of the indoors.

Pricing:

If you register for one meeting at a time, the cost is $50 each.

If you register for two meetings at a time, the cost is a total of $80.

If you register for all four meetings at a time, the cost is a total of $150.

To reserve your space or if you have any questions, please contact Elizabeth Olate at olate.elizabeth@gmail.com or 614-390-6482. All of our activities will happen rain, shine, or snow. We will notify you if we cancel for potentially dangerous conditions such as torrential downpours, lightning or snowstorms. Please dress in ways that feel comfortable and warm/dry for you.

Facilitator Descriptions

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Elizabeth Olate, MA, MSW, LISW-S, is a nature-lover, mother, and psychotherapist. In her private practice, she specializes primarily in working with adults and adolescents on issues related to trauma, anxiety, and depression. Elizabeth has taught classes at The Ohio State University at the undergraduate and graduate levels, she has led clinical training workshops as well as intensive therapeutic retreats, facilitated therapeutic groups (in indoor and outdoor settings), and she has engaged in clinical work with individuals and families since 2004.

In addition to her therapeutic work, Elizabeth has always been an explorer and lover of the wild outdoors. She is certified in Wilderness First Aid and engages in backpacking, hiking, and camping outings locally and throughout the United States. In addition, she completed a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) course in wilderness expedition leadership and guidance. Elizabeth combines her knowledge of gestalt and somatic therapeutic practices with her reverence for and connection with the natural world, drawing on nature as a resource for enhancing self-awareness, connection, and awakening.

When Elizabeth is not at work in her private practice or out in the wild, she enjoys the presence of her family and friends, and trying out culinary “experiments”.

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Russell Gantzer, BA, has a degree in painting and drawing and has been trained as a musician, carpenter, baker, landscape and floral designer, and in plant identification and taxonomy.  He has also practiced therapeutic work while teaching at a behavioral school and summer program camp in Cleveland focusing on regulating emotions, conflict resolution, and social justice as well as transitioning the students into vocational opportunities.

Russell is an avid hiker who enjoys long distance hikes as well as exploratory nature hikes allowing him to experience the macro and micro of natural environments.  Born and raised in the foothills of West Virginia, the outdoors has always played an important part in his life. Russell’s relationship with the natural world has instilled in him a passion for land and water conservation, provided a source of personal and artistic inspiration, and has served as an aid in fostering a greater appreciation and connection with himself and others.

Russell spends his time exploring the many State Nature Preserves in Ohio. He has also ventured through much of the coastal Redwood forests of California, the rocky terrains of Utah, and the swamplands of Florida.  He is the process of planning many trips throughout other areas of the U.S and abroad.

Coastal North Carolina

“When anxious, uneasy…thoughts come, I go to the sea, and the sea drowns them out with its great wide sounds, cleanses me with its noise, and imposes a rhythm upon everything in me that is bewildered and confused.”  ~Rainer Maria RilkeSunset pier Oak Island.jpg

Did the coastal North Carolina landscape unfold before me or I within it?

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As I traversed its coastal forests, enchanting wetlands, carnivorous plants, and rhythmic ocean waves… as I inhaled the scent of salt, heavy in the air…

I found myself thinking less and feeling more.

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I found myself a little more.

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Easing into Natural Being

Children are some of my greatest teachers; their curiosity and zest for exploration often seems downright palpable. I love most when I’m out in the wilds with children – or with grownups who have the ability to access their inner adventurous child. It is with the young at heart (regardless of their chronological age) that I myself experience more fully the enchantment, the mystery, and the awe of our earth.

After an hour (or a day or a week) of submerging my feet in startling, soothing cool water, watching the way the shadows from the leaves above dance on the path, marveling at the beautiful design of a single blade of wild grass, and noticing the scent of soil and water as I breathe…

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..I find I can exhale a little longer and fuller. I can think with more clarity and peace.

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Even as I return to the bustling dance of urban life, I am at ease.

Wild Women Under a Full Moon

This weekend was dedicated to joining with a special group of soulful and strong women in hiking and exploring the wilderness within and surrounding us at Mohican and Malabar Farm State Parks in Ohio. We engaged in deeply moving conversations, meditative silent hiking, and enjoyed delicious fresh food cooked over a campfire. As the day was winding down and nightfall descended, we camped by the light of a wondrous glowing full moon.

Her heart was wild,

but I didn’t want to catch it, 

I wanted to run with it, 

to set mine free.

-Atticus

Wilderness Practice at Red River Gorge

“Modern psychotherapy is almost universally practiced during a fifty-minute hour in an office, in a building, in a city or suburb. The pattern is all but automatic; opening a ‘practice’ means opening an ‘office’ that must usually be reached by driving a car along a congested freeway through a threatening city.  Ecopsychology poses a powerful challenge to such therapeutic business as usual. It reminds us that the original environment in which teachers and healers sought to save people’s souls was the natural environment, and the farther from ‘civilization,’ the better. Is it possible that certain unconscious assumptions about the world are built into the city? Do those assumptions prevent both therapist and client from finding the most effective kind of healing? Is urban culture itself concealing repressed contents that need to be reclaimed and returned to consciousness for analysis?

Wilderness therapy – or ‘practice,’ as Steven Harper prefers to call it, by way of making a vital distinction – is the boldest ecopsychological method so far developed for raising questions like these. It abandons the office, the city, the clock in favor of a setting that more closely corresponds to the natural habitat that has always been used by traditional cultures for healing the troubled soul. As Harper suggests, the authentic experience of wilderness undercuts all our suppositions about the ‘civilized’ and the ‘primitive’ in ways that can deliver a ‘reality shock.’ If we approach nature as he proposes, we may find ourselves asking where the ‘wilderness’ really is. Is it perhaps within us, still waiting to be explored?”*

In my career, I identify as a therapist who meets people from all walks of life for outpatient therapy in my indoor private practice nestled in Columbus, Ohio. And I identify as a practitioner who meets people from all walks of life for wilderness practice in natural wild landscape.

I reside in a city with a population a little shy of 1,000,000 people; my solace unfolds in the wilderness. As Russell and I invite others into the wilds, we learn how they too often experience a deepened sense of themselves in connection with soil and rock beneath their feet. They seem to experience belonging in new (ancient) ways.

Our backpacking trip to Red River Gorge in Kentucky was intended to be a facilitator retreat; we had much to discuss about determining our next steps moving forward with projects for our program NSWE (Natural Step Wilderness Experience).

When we moved into a natural area of Corbin Sandstone formed over an estimated 300 million years, however, our agenda shifted into the periphery.

How could we not be captivated?

We arrived. We were reminded that nature is our facilitator; we are mere student participants, naturally exploring moment to moment.

So, instead we experienced a deepened sense of ourselves in connection with the soil and rock beneath our feet. We experienced belonging to our earth in new (ancient) ways.

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WildflowerRock picCampsite & Russell making a fire

 

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Elizabeth walking on the rock

 

*Roszak, T. (2014). Foreward to the way of wilderness. Retrieved from http://www.stevenkharper.com/wayofwilderness.html.

 

Zaleski

It was late April. Both Russell and I thought that weekend we were going to be hiking at Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia, but for several reasons we last-minute decided to change our plans and instead drove an hour away to Zaleski State Forest in Ohio.

Unbeknownst to us at the time, this unfolded into one of those spontaneous, marvelous choice points…you know, the kind when you impulsively shift your course of action and discover yourself in a treasure cove?

Zaleski State Forest is the second largest state forest in Ohio and offers lovely backpacking trails. That weekend we listened to a beautiful whip-poor-will, apparently content to serenade the forest from a branch above our tents nearly all night long. We spotted a red-eft newt camouflaged amongst the leaves blanketing the forest floor.

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We raved over the showy orchid (Galearis spectabilis) blooming beneath the canopy of trees.

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We watched a coyote deftly move up a steep forest incline. We marveled at the moss, the lichens, the ferns, the fungi, the sunlight gleaming through the trees. There was nothing else we wanted for besides all that already surrounded us.

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As we hiked out of the forest that Sunday mid-morning, I felt my wakeful presence meet the fast cars on the highway and I was reminded of an essay I had read by Robert Greenway. He stated:

“…when consciousness opens full to wilderness and immerses itself in natural processes, the return is almost always a painful experience…In the painful ‘reentry’ experience we feel our newly open and connected beings congeal into hardened, separate, well-defended selves. Although unpleasant, this process is perhaps a unique opportunity to experience mindfully the cultural forces that normally operate outside our awareness…I counsel wilderness participants to leave the wilderness without regret, without holding on, to find healing in the transition, and also to plan for continuing transitions between wilderness and culture on a regular basis. It is also helpful to establish political and cultural relationships with the wilderness visited. Since all wildernesses are at risk – all are being damaged in one way or another – there are plenty of opportunities for such relationships. Of course, continuing with the wilderness group itself supports an ongoing healed relationship with nature.”*

As I return to my memories of that weekend, I find a collection of ordinary moments that became infused with the extra-ordinary. Perhaps this is what happens when we move into a state where being on earth itself is cause for celebration – and when we allow ourselves to ease into relating with the coyotes, the red eft newts, and the showy orchids.

My heart is wild and full.

 

*Passage taken from: Greenway, R. (1995). The wilderness effect and ecopsychology. Ecopsychology: Restoring the earth, healing the mind (pp. 133-134). Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press.

Awakening the spirit

Recently, I completed a NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) expedition leader training in the back country of North Cascades. While I was there, I certainly had the opportunity to sharpen my “outdoorsy” backpacking, knot tying, and risk management skills.

An unexpected gift unfolded for me out there, too: After about day 5 or so out in the wilds of Washington State, a clarity of mind came over me that I rarely experience in the “front country” (a term backpackers often use to refer to developed, non-wilderness areas). I returned to my Midwestern home with a renewed reservoir of energy to live my fleeting life on this planet in ways that truly prioritize what is most meaningful to me.

With deep reverence and gratitude for the wild rugged beauty of the North Cascades (and for the wild beauty all around us, if we only take a moment to look, smell, feel…), I offer a glimpse of my recent journey (photos taken by my talented fellow students & leaders):

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In my own journey, I am reminded of John Muir’s quote:

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.” 

Cheers to going home.  I welcome you here, too.

 

Greetings!

Just like taking my first step at the trailhead, beginning a blog is full of unkowns…what is this journey we are embarking on? What will we discover while we’re here? I imagine this blog will eventually be filled with photos and tales of journeys all over the wild Midwestern United States landscape, throughout other regions of the United States, and in natural settings around the globe.

Lovers of the wilderness in all of its spectacular layers, we relate to our outdoors from close to the ground – literally with a jeweler’s eye – and we relate to our outdoors from cliffs stretching out over a grand vista.

This blog will document our work, our experiences, and relevant topics such as flor and fauna, eco-psychology, hiking, backpacking, and beyond.

Russell and I are excited to welcome you on our exploratory journey into the wild nature of our mysterious and astounding planet; and into the co-existing wild nature of our mysterious and astounding inner worlds.

Let the adventure begin…