I’m Sonya and before we get into all things forest bathing, I thought perhaps you’d like to get to know a bit more about me, who I am, where I’m from, what I like, how and why I started Adore Your Outdoors. Read on…
Where I’ve lived
I was born in Farnborough and have lived in various places in Hampshire all my life, except for 3 years when I lived in Bristol while at Uni (Information Systems and French and Spanish – was I mad?). It was a 4 year degree condensed into 3 years (always been impatient) so one summer I jetted off to Grenoble in France and spent 6 months doing work experience in a French company and eating lots and lots and lots of gloriously smelly, squidgy, soft, creamy, gooey fromage 🧀
If you don’t know Grenoble it’s in a valley in the South of France so in the summer it’s 40 degrees every day with very little wind, and in the winter it’s a ski resort. I was there in summer and that’s where the now commonly used phrase* “Grenoble lip” was coined; you permanently had a sweaty upper lip, and you weren’t alone. No matter how much you tried to surreptitiously wipe it when nobody was looking, or mop it with a tissue, it was back within seconds so in the end everyone gave up.
*at least amongst my circle of friends and family anyway!
I love to get creative and have enjoyed learning flower arranging, glass fusing and painting with acrylics using weird and wonderful tools like credit cards and toothbrushes – so much fun! I’ve done yoga and meditation on and off all my life, and once was lucky enough to go on retreat to Greece where we meditated A LOT every morning and spent the afternoons on the private shingle beach. Heaven. I was pregnant then but didn’t know it, when I realised, I understood why my nips were so bloomin’ sensitive each time I exited the sea, 😂 OUCH.
Walking🚶♀️has always been a big thing for me too. I have done the Moonwalk to raise money for breast cancer research twice, once in London and once in Iceland. We were only told after we’d paid, completed 2 plane journeys and 1 coach transfer that the particular area we were staying in gets overrun by black flies every June. Harmless black flies but nevertheless, it was nothing less than AN APOCALYPTIC SWARM! We had to wear protective head nets while walking 26.2 miles in our bras! Honestly, you couldn’t make it up. it’s no wonder I’ve stuck to local walks around Hampshire since that trip.
My love for animals
(Excluding swarming black flies!) I’ve grown up with various pets in the family home and am a bit of a Dr. Dolittle. Stray animals upset me so much and I was always the one removing slices of ham from the breakfast buffets when on holiday as a little girl. I remember one year in Tunisia I was in a ground floor room and a Mummy cat and her kittens made my bed their own…CUTE…leaving them to return home was difficult. I once won a goldfish at a fair that lived almost 20 years. I called her Stella (Artois). Helping rear a litter of puppies a few years ago was fun and they were the sweetest little things. I was so sad when they went on to their forever homes. Before the fish I had a tank full of massive stick insects. The whole family is still baffled about this one. One climbed up into my hair as I leaned over the tank once 😲
I don’t currently have any pets (although I do love the hedgehog and songbirds 🐦 in the garden and often post about their antics on Facebook) but will at some point get another dog. If you love nature and don’t follow 30 Days Wild on FB, it’s worth joining the group.
It was when I had my son Leo that I really fell in love with all aspects of the natural world and started finding joy in all seasons. One of my proudest achievements is that he is nature and animal mad too, it takes us a long time to walk anywhere (tricky on the morning nursery run and not particularly pleasant in pouring rain!) so that we can spend time with each creature that catches his attention on the way.
Organising events has always been something I enjoy, going back as far as throwing a massive boat party with a friend for our 18th birthdays, and researching and booking several holidays with 10+ friends over the years, including partying holidays when we rarely saw the light of day in Tenerife 💃, as well as trips to music festivals where we went in and out each day, staying in huge cottages where we could shower, enjoy chilled drinks, keep valuables safe and of course sleep in a comfy bed! Road tripping Highway 101 in California and seeing family in South Africa are two of my faves and since having Leo I have fallen in love with staycations and we love Weymouth and the Yorkie Dales.
Workwise, I consider myself lucky because I genuinely enjoyed most of my previous roles; I worked with some great people and travelled widely, and I relished the multicultural aspect, although travelling with work is most definitely not as glamourous as it seems. That said, the Shangri-La in Malaysia is still the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in and probably ever will! But oh, the jet lag ⏰ running workshops after 1-2 hours sleep and then going out to eat and socialise in the evenings before not sleeping again…exhausting.
While employed. and some 12 years ago, I trained 📖 as a counsellor at ‘night school’ (as my Mum would say!), because after all the left-brain logic at work I needed to reconnect with my emotions and creativity. During the 3 years of study, I learnt a lot about myself not least because you have to have a fair chunk of your own therapy as part of the process. I’ve dipped in and out of therapy all my life, I love it and still believe if everyone had 6 sessions of CBT a year, we would prevent many minor mental health conditions becoming debilitating.
The birth of Adore Your Outdoors
4 years ago, I became a Mum for the first time and everything in my world changed. I no longer wanted to travel with work and anyway the opportunities had disappeared, and I was made redundant in early 2019. After a month or two of rest I began weighing up pros and cons of going back into a similar role vs doing something brave. I looked into how I could combine two of my passions – helping others and the healing power of nature 🌳 and, over a glass of Prosecco in the garden in the summer sunshine, Adore Your Outdoors was born! I knew that if I didn’t take the chance then, I would regret it forever.
So off I went to the Forest of Dean for an 8-day residential training course with the Global Institute of Forest Therapy that was a life changing experience and concluded with us guiding actual real-life Forest Holiday guests on our first walk. There’s so much more to say about the training but I’ll leave that to another time….
Want to find out more?
If you are interested in learning more, do not hesitate to contact me via email firstname.lastname@example.org
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