Writing contribution by Grace Lane Smith
The fact that we spend more time indoors than outdoors probably comes as a surprise to no one. It is also no surprise that time spent away from technology and moving can have huge benefits on our bodies, minds and souls.
But just how much time do we really spend indoors? According to a study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Americans spend 87% of their time indoors, and 6% in automobiles. Canadians have similar stats, and I wonder how prevalent this is across the developed world. The study was done in 2001 but it is doubtful that much has changed for the better.
Are you running around busy all day from the crack of dawn to late at night? How much natural light are you taking in and truly experiencing in a restorative way? I’m thinking that even if you are pursuing your calling, living out your passion, collaborating with your dream team, there is a lot of hunching over a piece of technology involved, and not as much rejuvenating time outdoors, unplugged.
That and the following excerpt about patient recovery offer wonderful food for thought:
Stop right there. Did you catch that? Patients recovered much faster when they had a picture or video from nature to look at then a wall.
But I want to ask, ‘Why wait until our 21st century lifestyles impact our health and possibly even land us in hospital? Why not benefit from the restorative, soul-giving side of nature now – even for those who live in the city?’
Have you heard of the Danish concept of hygge? Hygge seems to have taken the world by storm when Meik Wiking published his book The Little Book of Hygge. A beautifully photographed, illustrated and written book, it is based on his team’s world happiness study, and the reasons for why the Danish rank so highly in terms of “happiness”. As it turns out, hygge plays a big role in happiness. In a nutshell, hygge is all about the coziness factor, influenced by:
1. How we set up our surroundings – cozy textiles, beautiful art we connect with, soft lighting etc.
2. The actual feeling of coziness, a sense of being able to relax and be yourself in a safe environment, whether that’s with a group of trusted friends or by alone with a book watching the storm go by.
This is good news for introverts who long for a retreat in the country but find themselves in the city. Even if you can’t fulfill your dreams of getting away to the cottage or moving to the coast (right now), you can still create your own little hygge corner at home and enjoy the same benefits.
Anyone who’s lived in basements or has been cooped up indoors for long hours at a time can relate to this. I recall long winters in dingy basements with nothing but a half a rectangle of a window letting light in – half, because half was likely covered by a sheet of plastic or rotted wood. Those were depressing days and I longed to get out of suburbia to the rolling hills, open fields, forests, the beach.
I feel that I am not alone in having longed for the views of the vast sky, clean air, open spaces, and at a deeper, more intimate level, a deep sense of being alive. Now, I feel like one of the lucky ones, having been given the opportunity to move to the rugged coast of Nova Scotia.
These weekly escapes are retreats I don’t take for granted and it’s the feeling of being refreshed, a feeling of the soul having rested that I desire to capture in my paintings. I want to bring a sense of this deep rest and joy to you in a visual, tactile way.
After much deep pondering over the last six months, I’ve come to the conclusion that the desire of my art is for it to be a service in which I listen deeply to the yearnings of hearts of visionaries. The desire to capture the moments that take your breath away, where all the senses are engaged and uplifted and transform it in such a way that you can hang it on your walls and have it fill your entire space.
• What this means is, if you’re a busy city dweller longing to get away but can’t seem to find the time to refill your soul as much as you’d like by getting away into nature, I paint waterscapes and landscapes with you in mind. I create these pieces with the purpose of supporting you in creating your own at home oasis and to help you refresh and rest.
• For those who don’t need to bring nature into their homes because they are in a position to enjoy it around them, I create art that express the feeling of being moved by something magnificent and the moments in time when you feel most alive, like watching the most breathtaking sunset with your favourite person in the world. This is especially the case with the more abstract approach I take with some of my work. There is no need for paintings to compete with the therapeutic effects of nature, so instead the art complements the natural world around it. These paintings aim at helping you to press pause and honour the deep stirrings of the soul.
There are so many wonderful and worthwhile things to pursue – life callings and passions, making a difference in other people’s lives every day – and I know that it is what keeps you so busy, but at the end of the day, as humans, we still need time to rest and recharge to do our best work. One way to do that is to create cozy retreats in your home where you can unplug and replenish. My desire for my art is to serve you in creating a visual environment to help you rest, rejuvenate and return to what is important to you, refreshed.
Hi everyone! I feel so honoured to be sharing my artistic journey here at Be You and Thrive with you. My art journey has been a lifelong one but the pivotal point from hobby to professional pursuit after a concussion left me reevaluating my life. The desire of my art is for it to be a service in which I listen deeply to the yearnings of hearts of visionaries. I love hearing from the online community (that’s you!) so if my story resonates with you, please get in touch as I’d love to hear your stories!
Hailing from the Maritimes of East Coast Canada,
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