Hello, I’m Sonya Dibbin, the owner and founder of Adore Your Outdoors
To start my new blog (yay!), I thought perhaps you’d like to get to know a bit more about me, Sonya Dibbin, such as how and why I started Adore Your Outdoors, where I’m from, what I’m into, etc. Read on…
The jump from employed to sole trader
Back in 2016, I became a Mum for the first time. Everything in my world changed. If you’re a parent then this will likely resonate with you, too. I no longer ‘lived to work’ as pretty much all my priorities altered. Consequently, when offered redundancy from my Corporate IT job in early 2019 (when my son was 3), I decided to go for it.
I spent a month or two recharging before I began weighing up the pros and cons of finding a similar role vs starting ‘something courageous’. A big driver was my desire to spend considerable time with my son in his early years, and I knew this would be unlikely with a similar role. It’s harsh that these days parents must choose between working and parenting, and if they try to do both they spend their whole lives feeling guilty… I knew I would only have one child, so being around to help shape his life was essential.
Back to the ‘something courageous’. I was exploring the idea of merging two of my passions:
- helping others to live a joyful life and
- the healing power of nature connection.
Discovering Forest Therapy Guide training
I had previously spent three years qualifying as a therapeutic counsellor which covered the first point, and I wanted to do something similar but outdoors. Remembering how much natural world had helped me after the birth of my son, I passionately believed there was a place for combining the two. I found a Forest Therapy Guide training course with the Global Institute of Forest Therapy. This practice was therapeutic and outside – could this be it? The six-month course started with an 8-day residential in the historic Forest of Dean (lucky me!). That was a life-changing experience in itself and concluded with us guiding actual real-life Forest Holiday guests on our first forest bathing walk.
On returning home, Adore Your Outdoors was born. I knew that if I didn’t take the chance then, I would regret it forever. Little did I know that Covid lockdowns were just around the corner and that the healing power of nature was about to be experienced by so many…
My love for the natural world
It was after I had my son that I really fell in love with all aspects of the natural world. Growing up in a family who was only happy if it was sunny outside meant there was a lot of misery around and I knew that wasn’t healthy. I am certain that I suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as I felt wretched all winter. So, once I knew I was going to be a Mum I knew the best gift I’d ever give my child was a love for the natural world in all seasons – which meant me modelling behaviour and falling in love too.
It worked and I’m happy to say that he is a fellow nature nerd too. Then again, aren’t most kids? It takes us a long time to walk anywhere (particularly tricky on the morning school run and not especially pleasant in the pouring rain!) so that we can spend time with each creature or leaf that catches his attention on the way. I’ll try to keep this curiosity and appreciation alive in him for as long as I can. While I’m aware of the well-publicised teenage dip in nature connection, I hope that the foundations from his former years serve him later on.
Pets and wildlife
Feeding the hedgehogs and songbirds in my garden brings a lot of joy and I also have two wildlife ponds that support a whole ecosystem of critters. By the way, if you want to help nature in your garden, then creating a wildlife pond is the single most beneficial thing you can do.
I once won a goldfish at a fair that lived for almost 20 years! Her name was Stella (Artois) and she moved around with me to my various houses and then spent her ‘retirement’ with my parents 🐟 In addition to Stella, I grew up with cats, dogs, hamsters and even stick insects in the family home and am known as a bit of a Dr Dolittle. Stray animals have always upset me, and I was the little girl ‘borrowing’ slices of ham from hotels on holiday. I remember one year in Tunisia I had a ground floor room and a Mummy cat and her kittens made my bed their own…CUTE…leaving them to return home was difficult. Of course, I had absolutely no concern about fleas or ticks in those days, I might be slightly more cautious now…
My early years
I was born to my South African Mum and English Dad in Farnborough, Hampshire and have unintentionally moved southbound along the M3 motorway (Farnborough, then Hook, then Old Basing, Basingstoke and finally Winchester!). My direction of travel seems to indicate I’ll soon be living on the coast, which is absolutely fine by me 😁
The exception was while I was at University in Bristol (Information Systems and French and Spanish – was I mad?). It was a 4-year degree condensed into 3 years (always been impatient) which meant working during the holidays, and one summer I jetted off to Grenoble in Southern France to spend 6 months eating lots and lots of gloriously smelly, squidgy, gooey fromage 🧀. Oh, and working in a French organisation, too.
If you don’t know Grenoble it’s in a valley 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 over the 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.
Getting creative in my free time
I love to get creative and in recent years have enjoyed learning interior design, cupcake decorating. flower arranging, glass fusing and painting with acrylics using weird and wonderful tools like credit cards and toothbrushes.
Looking after my health
I’ve practised yoga and various forms of meditation for as long as I can remember, and once was lucky enough to go on a wellbeing retreat to Greece where we meditated on the patio for hours every morning and spent the afternoons on the private beach. Heaven.
Walking has always played a big part in my life, too. I have done the Moonwalk twice (walking 26.2 miles at night in a decorated bra) to raise money for breast cancer research, once in London and once in Iceland. The Iceland experience was immense as the scenery included waterfalls and volcanos. Still, we were only told after we’d paid, completed two plane journeys and one coach transfer that the specific area we were staying in gets overrun by black flies every June. Harmless flies, but nevertheless, it was nothing less than an apocalyptic storm! We had to wear protective head nets all the time otherwise they were in your ears, eyes, mouth and nose – no orifice was safe! It took the edge off somewhat, I’ve got to be honest.
Travel and holidays
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. These include partying holidays all over Europe and trips to music festivals where we went in and out each day, staying overnight in cottages where we could shower, enjoy chilled drinks, keep valuables safe and of course sleep in a comfy bed. No, I wouldn’t call it not cheating, haha.
Road tripping Highway 101 in California was my fave holiday but in recent years I’ve fallen in love with UK staycations and day trips to the coast. I’m far more introverted these days and thoroughly enjoy my own company at home. For me a great weekend these days includes early nights, plenty of pottering in the garden and perhaps a brief conversation with a neighbour as they walk past 😎
Want to find out more about Sonya Dibbin or Adore Your Outdoors?
If you are interested in learning more about me, Sonya Dibbin, and Adore Your Outdoors, you can visit the about pages on the website here.
About Adore Your Outdoors
About Sonya Dibbin