Words By: Emily Martin

Photos By: Aaron Blatt

Skiing is what makes Michelle feel most intensely connected. To herself and to nature. The sport requires a heightened awareness. She must be in harmony with the environment around her in a way that is not just important, but vital for her survival. To succeed she must find Outer Peace.

Climate change in 2020 opened up a lot of eyes to the stark consequences that arise from a lack of awareness about how we are interacting with the world. The devastating forest fires which blanketed communities across the globe exposed the terrifying cost of the climate crisis.

“Without a healthy climate, we won’t have healthy people. And so, for me, the climate is number one.”

Climate change connects us because it affects us all. We are all fighting for a dwindling supply of clean air and water. But we are not fighting equally. In the US, there’s huge racial inequality in intersectional environmentalism. Certain individuals disproportionately affected by the climate crisis. Marginalized communities facing ongoing injustices.

So, together we must fight for nature’s wild places while they still exist. No longer view them as abstract, far-removed, abundant. Because it’s these wild places that support our cities. Our communities. And if they die, we are vulnerable. Disconnected. The harmonious balance of our lives disrupted.

For Michelle, some of this disconnection is already present in our communities. Stemming from a preoccupation with phones and technology. She notices this most when in the city, where she’s in “closest proximity to a lot of people, but the most disconnected from them.” It is in these environments that she feels most anxious and uncomfortable. Struggles to find her calm.

While Michelle appreciates the joy technology can give us in staying connected with loved ones, especially during a pandemic, she believes the negatives of a phone far outweigh the positives. That spending time staring at a screen, dedicating energy to showcasing our lives on social media is detrimental to our mental health. And this time could be much better spent making unique and personalised connections. Finding Outer Peace

Michelle finds Outer Peace when on the ski track. This is when she feels her calmest. Freest. Heading up a mountain to ski powder. Surrounded by nature. Enveloped in utter peace and quiet. A moment of pure connection with her skis, the snowpack, the weather. A unique snippet in time where she feels most connected even though she is on top of a hill. Alone.

But she also loves to bring others into this environment. To be together and have simple and beautiful conversation. To connect with one another and with nature in a very deep and immense way.

Skiing was Michelle’s daycare. She was just one the first time she skied and she feels incredibly lucky to have grown up in a community where she could walk to the mountain. To escape. To have ready access to engage with the nature she loved. To take a break from daily life and its constant demands.

These lessons have supported her into adulthood and given her the utmost respect for Mother Nature, the weather and the environment. Today, when she’s out in nature she feels content. More present and in sync with the energy of our universe.

Her experiences in nature have deepened her understanding of her purpose. Taught her to live compassionately. Taught her an awareness that “there’s never enough time spent with the people you love.”

Michelle finds Outer Peace by living with positivity. Looking for the silver lining. Seeking opportunities to learn and grow stronger. Appreciating the beauty in the smallest of things. And by recognising that connection is different for everybody, but no less important.

How will you find it?