Feeling crazy busy caring for others?
Want to pause from time to time to savour the moment?
Wish life was simpler and you could recapture that childlike sense of wonder and curiosity?
Noticing nearby nature may be just what you need in your daily life.
This transformative online course is an 8-week interactive guide to noticing nearby nature for personal and professional self-care.
You’ll be guided through the process of creating enjoyable new habits to improve how you feel and function in your daily life.
The content is both playful & profound
I’ve carefully curated relevant research findings, nature photos, quotes, poetry, and real-life stories to inspire and inform you.
You can easily personalize the sensory activities and self-reflections to suit your unique nature interests, your location and the time you have available.
For Recreation Therapists:
Content is CE Pre-Approved by NCTRC for 12 hours
The nature activities will reawaken your senses to the beauty and wonder of your natural habitat, including your sense of curiosity and fascination.
Six learning sessions are presented over eight weeks, with
two implementation weeks (weeks 3 and 6). Each of the six sessions includes two
hours of learning, for a total of twelve hours.
You’re invited to share stories and photos in the weekly interactive comments section with me and with other healthcare providers enrolled in the course. Or you can move through the material more slowly on your own.
Enrollment is limited for this interactive learning experience.
"As a result of taking Shelagh's course, I realize how important it is to give myself a nature prescription. Even though the primary focus of my work is helping people connect with nature, I was always too busy caring for the well-being of others to take a break on my lunch hour. Now I find myself eating outside, going for a quick walk, or stopping to pick flowers.
I realize that I have more to give by giving myself permission to take a break and look around. I don't have to go far to feel reconnected to nature and part of something greater than myself."
- Emma Rooney, Creativity Facilitator & Founder, Blooming Caravan, Toronto, Ontario
As a registered horticultural therapist, ecological educator and professional gardener, I am passionate about promoting the health and well-being of people and planet through daily engagement with nearby nature.
For 23 years, I developed and facilitated therapeutic garden programs for seniors living in care homes, while supervising and mentoring many students and volunteers. I taught people with mental health issues how to grow their own food, collaborated on the design of restorative and enabling gardens, and created and taught a 130-hour Horticultural Therapy Certificate Program.
My current focus is to inspire healthcare providers to notice and engage with nearby nature for self-care, and to teach them how to facilitate therapeutic garden and nature programming for their patients and clients: programming for health promotion and therapeutic intervention that is simple, evidence-based, and enjoyable.
I write informative articles on my blog, offer illustrated garden activity signs for sale online, and I'm now offering this interactive online course (yay!), with more to come.
Sensory nature play is a joyful daily practice for me, a source of nourishment and delight, and an evolving journey that I'd love to share with you. Join me, as we learn together to thrive with nature.
"I loved taking the course as it really gave me the reminders I needed to get outside. I have continued this practice over the holidays and it was so uplifting. I really feel a difference in my body…. I find when my stress is so high, I notice nature more. I worried sometimes and wondered if it was dissociating, but then I realize it is a moment of sanity in amongst the stress. It is something that is truly grounding me right now. Noticing the mountain ridge today just made me feel like everything was all going to be okay, and I think nature is there to serve as a reminder of that. The constant beauty and simplicity of it is such a gift!”
- Janay Babuin Funk, Recreation Therapist, BC, Canada
Course content is delivered in a creative mix of videos, slideshows, text, pdfs, photos & graphics, and a weekly printable worksheet.
This is what you'll learn, week by week:
Week One is for settling into the course, meeting your fellow students, getting familiar with everyday sensory nature awareness, including micro-breaks and playful self-care, and appreciating how you already notice nearby nature.
Week Two is about savouring simple everyday pleasures, rediscovering sensory nature activities to enjoy, and considering which activity you might want to make into a daily habit.
Week Three is an implementation week.
In Week Four, we'll focus on feelings that can result from everyday interactions with nature, including fascination, joy and wonder. You'll learn how to look at nearby nature in new ways, and how this can reduce unwanted stress.
In Week Five, you'll set an intention and get specific about your chosen daily nature ritual. We'll also focus on hearing the sounds of nearby nature, and deepening our nature appreciation skills.
Week Six is an implementation week.
Week Seven introduces techniques for implementing and sustaining your daily nature practice, while developing a deeper awareness of the benefits you're receiving. We'll explore touching and holding nature objects and figure out how to fit 20-minute restorative nature breaks into your day.
In Week Eight you'll amplify the benefits you're receiving with playful techniques for paying quality attention and for creating personal meaning from your daily nature experiences. We'll explore our sense of smell and review the main ideas from the course.
Additional resources will be available each week for those who wish to dive into them, and bonuses will be made available as the course wraps up.
"I would like to post an appreciation to everyone for all of the comments & wonderful ideas that have been shared during the past weeks. Although I have not been commenting too much, I have to say that it is incredible to be a part of this course and this group!
Between the content that Shelagh is presenting and all of the additional ideas that are being shared, my awareness/appreciation of nature is really expanding. So very inspiring! So many simple things we can do that can bring so much joy!
This week I found myself sky and cloud watching, taking pictures of plants & the ocean foam, planning an indoor garden, and appreciating the warmth of the sun. "
- Carol Shoji, British Columbia, Canada
I'm too busy. I don't have time to do the course
I'm with you! That's why I provide a worksheet each week. Print it off and take it outside with you, or wherever you choose. The worksheet includes key points, activities, and self-reflection questions for the week.
I'd rather do the course at my own speed, with no requirement to keep up or to comment
I hear you. You can go at your own speed and take as long as you like to complete the course. You're not required to comment or interact with me or the other students unless you wish to.
I live in a dense urban area without nearby nature to enjoy
Cities can be wonderfully stimulating cultural environments, and if you're thriving there, that's terrific! Your interest in this course suggests that you'd like to connect more with nature in your daily life. You'll learn creative ways to see nearby nature that you may not have noticed before, and you'll learn simple ways to add more nature content to your everyday life, where you live, work and play.
"Prior to taking the course, my time spent in nature could often be 'mindless', when I would be focused on my thoughts and not aware of my environment. I now make a conscious effort to say thanks and honour my environment and allow nature to heal and enrich my soul. You provided so many good concrete ideas to aid in my journey, both as a Horticultural Therapist and my daily nature ritual."
- Sherry Dodson, Horticultural Therapist, Ontario, Canada
Frequently Asked Questions
"I'm finding it very difficult to put into words the fullness of the experience of this process of paying quality attention to nature! I'm developing an awareness -- I've tapped into a deeper level of being in the world -- it's changed my focus! I find myself listening to birds and insects, sniffing and touching and examining all kinds of plants.
It seems to be pretty easy to slip into the mode of savouring the natural moment now that I know it is a practice worth doing. Thank you, Shelagh and everybody, for sharing experiences."
- Kristin Murray, British Columbia, Canada
3% of your course enrollment fee will be donated to The Nature Conservancy.
Their mission: Conserving the lands and waters upon which all life depends.
Their goal: A world where people and nature thrive.