Nature heals


Whenever anything has been difficult in my life, my answer has been to go play outside.

When I was little, our home backed onto a suburban park with a rain run-off pond and a playground. It was beautiful and I spent many hours happily playing there with my siblings.

An athlete from an early age, I spent a lot of time running outdoors and, when I could, swimming, paddling, skiing, and skating, too. When I moved away to university I fell into a depression that I finally tackled by training for, and racing in, two full marathons.

If ever I have been sad, angry, scared, frustrated, or stuck, I've found that going for a walk is the best cure.

When my fiance died suddenly in 2017, my gut instinct was to move to my parents' home where I could be in nature. In those early days, doing anything was hard, but going outside was the least difficult thing. I know how to be OK outside.

It took another move and an attempt at going back to my old career to realize that I'd done the right thing in the first place. It was during a trip to Frontenac Park, where the picture for this painting was taken, that it came to me that I needed to be by the water if I was going to survive this. I made up my mind that weekend and over the next couple of months, I moved back home to Amherst Island. That's where I'm planning to stay, for now anyway.

Every morning I step out our door into complete bliss: Lake Ontario is out our front door, unused farmland is out our back yard and, in the distance, Topsy Farms' sheep sometimes roam to graze. I run most days. I swim every day that I can. When the wind dies down and the water is calm, we head out on our stand up paddleboards or kayaks to enjoy our bay.

I'm lucky, I know, having access to all of this nature. It brings me peace and, usually, happiness. By creating paintings based on photographs of places where I've felt one with the healing power of nature, I get to revisit that power and spend intimate time with it.

I heal myself by painting the natural world.