TBI Survivor Blog Series 2022 – Nature is my Sanctuary

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Photo’s by France Theriault

Nature is my Sanctuary.

Nature is my sanctuary, it is certainly one of my favourite healing therapies. After having a Traumatic Brain Injury, I soon realized I needed peace, quietness, solitude and a place where I would be able to safely reconnect with myself.

So I started to venture solo appreciating the beauty all around me in the forest. My slower pace made it easier to contemplate, discover, and with curious keen eyes, observe details, colours, textures, shapes and many details I would have dismissed pre-concussion.

At the beginning of my healing process, I was entangled in a lot of physical pain and my physical abilities were limited. Spending time in nature, slowly moving my body, feeling the warmness of the sun on my face felt wonderful, I was alive. Hearing the birds chirping, seeing the squirrels racing each other and noticing the butterflies coming towards me was a fabulous distraction from the various symptoms that clouded my day.

9 years later, I am convinced there are so many benefits of spending time outside in nature. After a few minutes of walking in the forest, I normally feel an overall sense of well-being. Even if my mind is racing and part of my body is still in discomfort, I start to experience feeling grounded, wholeness and a deep connection with all the elements around me; the visible one and the invisible one as well.

Not every outdoor scenery is equal and each one of them brings me a variety of sensory experiences.

A few meters from my apartment, I can access the beach. As soon as the warmer days arrived I loved walking barefoot in the sand. I take pleasure in observing the clouds in the sky and I certainly appreciate seeing little ones having an agreeable time with their friends. Joy is always coming along, gratitude is not very far behind.

I have so many hiking possibilities around me. I am delighted my adventurous side came to my mental rescue over the years. With my hiking poles in hand, I feel I can venture into more challenging terrains, climbing over obstacles or ascending/descending hills that offer me some new possibilities. The Niagara Escarpment provides numerous trails in many cities. In the last few years, I explored many trails with friends and every season brought delightful magnificent scenery. I am fond of capturing beauty, creating wonderful memories I enjoy revisiting.

City explorations are great when I am looking for a rapid pick me up between two activities. Walking downtown Burlington is fun and there is always something to discover or rediscover. I found people are friendly. Often you can see me engaging in a brief conversation with a passerby who, just like me, is outside taking advantage of the nice weather. 

I am already thrilled with the fabulous hiking possibilities I will explore as the weather slowly starts to change. Nature’s transformative process will bring a lot to contemplate, admire and savour.

Perhaps I will see you this summer in one of my favourite hiking destinations.

*You can follow me on Instagram at Standingbyyourside65 where I share inspirational stories, sharing insights about living a beautiful & meaningful life 8 years after having a Traumatic Brain Injury from a cycling accident.

France Theriault


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