We live in uncomfortable, uncertain times. As November 3rd approaches, the stress meter increases daily. With COVID-19, racial injustice tension, economic uncertainty, and the most contested election in my lifetime, the need for calm and centering is so needed.

Love of Land

Throughout my career, my work is always tied to the land. My love of land permeates through all I do. From my beginnings as a civil engineer, to my transformation as a land use planner, permit expert, farmland preservation advocate, and start-up advocate and investor everything begins with the earth, the dirt, a beginning. There are times my work feels ethereal, too head centered and not grounded. To stay centered I have practices that help me do my best work.

Our U.S. culture is a head culture. Most of my work is head work, numbers, laws, and policies. Our culture is embedded in law, science and reason, which is good thing most of the time.  Until it is not. With the everyday tensions whether from a job, a family relationship, financial pressures, systemic racism awarenesses, or the ongoing bombardment of daily news reports, every person, whether grounded in reason or not, is challenged. It’s the fear of the unknown, the onslaught of negativity, or perhaps the daily grind of life, that can just wear us down.

I know my brain can run away and take me to places where it is overcome by fear. I can ache and feel loss, lost, and disconnected. It is a human condition. I can find myself in disillusionment, lonely and sad. In the words of David Byrne the musician I say, “How did I get here?” More importantly, “How do I get out of this funk?”

Rather than wallow in self-pity, self-doubt, and fear, I know I must go back to the earth, to being grounded, again. I must return to what nourishes me-the land and my connection to the land.

“How did I get here?” the Marmot

Reconnecting to the Land

The pundits say reconnecting to nature is a stress releaser. I say, “Of, course!” A three to five mile hike is my optimal stress reliever, especially when I’m climbing and have to breathe hard. On a hike, the action of putting one foot in front of the other and the huffing and puffing are the only thing that fills my head. My eyes soak in the beauty that surround me– larches turning yellow and preparing for winter, a crystal clear lake in the cirque below the trail, or the majesty of a mountain vista. My ears hear my breath or perhaps, the twittering of a bird or the cawing of a raven. These are the experiences that fill and replenish me. But, having the time to do a 5-mile hike on demand is not always an option.

Thankfully, I have other go-to stress releasers. Vinyasa yoga, a local park walk, or meditative breathing will still satisfy, even though a vigorous, strenuous hike is the ultimate! Recently, to my delight, I learned that medical doctors have started writing nature prescriptions through ParkRX to get people outside. ParkRX was founded by Dr. Robert Zarr, in Washington, DC, with a mission ” to decrease the burden of chronic disease, increase health and happiness, and foster environmental stewardship, by virtue of prescribing Nature during the routine delivery of healthcare.” In 2019, with the most physicians in any state participating, 71 health care providers in Washington State wrote prescriptions using the ParkRX program. Even without a doctor’s prescription, anyone wanting to benefit from nature or wants to find a new park to visit can connect with the ParkRX program. Tap on “Prescribe Parks” in ParkRX website. Type in an address and parks from within 1/2 mile to 80 miles of the address are shown. In Washington, there are 867 park possibilities! That is a lot of parks to visit! Unfortunately, not all states or localities participate, but with time, ParkRX is a the ticket to a healthier, more grounded society.

How does this connect with my work? As a member of Washington State’s Recreation Conservation Funding Board, an avid outdoor enthusiast, and a lover of land, I am immensely pleased that the State’s Recreation and Conservation Office programs with legislative action approved have created and improved 2,005 different parks, preserved 12,117 acres of farmland and protected 499 miles of stream habitat since 1967. All of these state investments are positive additions to a Washingtonian’s quality of life.

With Gardow Consulting, LLC, whether you are building a new agricultural residential community, want project management expertise, need help to acquire land use permits or searching for wisdom on a start-up idea, integrity is first. Integrity is garnered through grounding. Know that I bring my best mind to the work I do. It doesn’t mean I am infallible, it means I am conscientious and get the job done. I pay attention to the details of your project.

North Cascades National Park