Words By: Emily Martin
Photos By: Ben Rosser
Florence focuses her career on the intersection of human health, emotional well-being, planetary health and environmental justice. She is passionate about connecting people with the nature around us. In any and all its forms. Perpetually finding awe in the everyday, and embracing the microdoses of nature and beauty that build up our human existence.
“There are a lot of challenges to getting people outside. And one of them is this over scheduling of time.”
Now more than ever, we need to open our arms to nature. To close the door on our everyday lives and our problems. To discover comfort in the quiet. To go outside and embrace nature in all its evocative glory. To find Outer Peace.
A belief has evolved that we must always be busy. Achieving, constantly. This has spawned a culture of loneliness. Of disconnection. Soaring rates of anxiety and depression. Especially in young people. And this is even before COVID-19 entered the equation.
Florence finds it truly grounding to get away from screens. “To have authentic experiences in the way that our human bodies have engaged with nature for millennia.”
For her, there’s nothing like the power of nature to pull you out of your own head. To make you feel grounded. Connected. A part of something much bigger. A part of a community. And even in urban environments, we feel nature’s presence, if we open ourselves up to its possibilities.
The sweet song of birds outside our window. The sight of squirrels in a tree. These are Florence’s microdoses of awe in a city that has the power to cause a stress bomb in her brain. Cities pose an unnatural external landscape for humans. Filled with stressors that have the ability to damage our internal emotional landscape, causing heightened anxiety and setting our senses on hyperalert.
In contrast, science shows the human nervous system reacts positively to being in natural environments. When we feel the caress of the wind on our cheek. The earth beneath our feet. We feel calm. Relaxed. Grounded.
Florence’s choice of natural environment is by a river. The lifeblood of a landscape. Her happy place. “There’s something about moving water that just brings me a lot of joy and a lot of energy. It makes me feel like I’m part of the natural world, gives me a sense of time, and makes me feel mindful in a space.”
Unfortunately, when locked in our urban landscapes, many of us turn our backs on nature. Lose our ability to appreciate all of its glorious forms. Big and small.
Not children though. Most children revel in nature. Are awed by it. Appreciate it freely through fresh eyes. New perspectives. Not yet guided or swayed by media, government, people, communities.
Ask an adult to define nature and you may get responses of a “national park” or a “mountain trail.” Man-made versions of nature with arbitrary human boundaries. Ask a child and you get an untainted response. The trees that line the sidewalk. A caterpillar on a leaf. Children know how to find the microdoses of awe and wonder that adults tend to forget or overlook as insubstantial.
Florence wants us to learn from children. To open our eyes and our senses to incredible moments of wonder that can be found anywhere.
Her mission is to get people outside. Often. To encourage shared exploration, a passing of passions. To inspire you to adventure into the unknown and discover what speaks to you. Then take others.
There’s room for us to all enjoy nature. And we don’t have to clamber to a mountain top to experience its awe. Nature’s lesson is to recognize moments of wonder and appreciation in our everyday lives. So, let’s look up from our phones. Better yet, let’s turn them off. Disconnect. Unplug. Explore. Feel nature’s warm embrace.
Find what makes you sing. Find your happy place. Find Outer Peace.