An ode to nature, and the joy of being outside
Getting outside is an existential experience; even for kids. We get away from four walls out into the world, and it reminds us how small and how big we are at the same time. Fresh air, open space, living breathing growing things- all connect us deeper to ourselves. It’s just plain good for the soul. Kids have this filter free lens on the world, they’re way ahead of us. Watching my children has taught me a lot about finding joy.
Hot tip: it’s everywhere. Sometimes it’s harder to find, and for those times- we go outside.
When you’re a kid, it’s always fun to visit your grandparents. It’s even more fun when they live on a farm. (Kindof)
Zara is always asking when we can go to “Pippa’s Farm” – my mom’s house- at Serenbe. We always have the most fun, and one of the only times Zara will nap is during the ride home. It’s located about a half hour south of Atlanta, so it’s not a bad drive from the Lake!
Serenbe is pretty cool; it’s a wellness community on acres of preserved land, with a mix of neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, a farm, trails, and sprawling pastures. There is also a beautiful historic Inn- I did not take any pictures of it though 🤷♀️ we are usually so focused on the animals!
What made this visit in particular so special, is that Amer came along! He is usually busy working his ass off, so it’s extra awesome that he came along with us! The girls love it because- I mean- he’s their hero, and I love it because he’s good at carrying stuff, and he holds my hand on the drive. We showed him all around our usual stops: the duck pond, the horse pastures, and the barn animals. Later we all took a hike through the woods. Other than a couple RUDE thorn bushes- it was a great time.
Even though it’s close to the city, It feels like an entirely different world. In a way it’s like stepping back in time, or stumbling into some quaint mixed Euro- style village in the middle of GA. Some of the trails lead to waterfalls, there are hidden gems like all wooden playground/forts in the middle of the woods; it’s a really magical place.
For the Madesko girls though, it’s all about the animals. We get a cup of feed from the Inn, or “borrow” some handfuls of hay from other animals, and take them straight to the donkeys.
There are 5 donkeys at Serenbe now! We’ve been coming since there were just 3 little ones, and I honestly think they remember Zara. They used to be in a separate pasture, and she would bring them fresh grass to munch.
ASD side note: if Zara loves a song; it’s “Old McDonald.” Seriously- We will sometimes sing it until she has listed every animal on EARTH. We’re talking past and present; real and mythical: jungle animals, dinosaurs, dragons, you name it. She does not care that lions and unicorns do not live on the farm, you HAVE to sing it. And like, really mean it. It is particularly soul crushing on car rides- there is no escape, and few distractions. When she was little, she would cry out in the night for “OHDONNEL!” and I’d have to sing her back to sleep. I have always wondered if this is a “Zara thing” or an every kid thing. So, If any of your kids, autistic or not, had/have a song obsession that holds you hostage- I would love to hear about it! We can laugh together, and cry together.
Serenbe has been a beautiful experience we are so grateful to be a part of. Every time we visit Pippa, we have an adventure. Pre covid, there was a weekly Farmers Market, and sometimes Amer would come and set up Green Valley Treats booth. We have seen musicals, attended a goat yoga class, gone to various “festivals” on the grounds, and eaten some delicious food. Every thing is family oriented, and family friendly. I also think Serenbe is responsible for the girls strong immune systems- as there is often dirt playing.. and eating.
And now that I think about it, our time here probably spawned Zara’s “OHDONNEL” obsession.
I always find that getting outdoors makes us all happier. It doesn’t have to be Serenbe. We live by a lake, and there are beautiful spots and trails for enjoying nature, finding some peace, or just getting some exercise! When we lived in the city, we had a couple favorite walks and parks. Now, with two young kids, sometimes, all I can handle is the backyard. To be real, sometimes all I can handle is Netflix.
There are a million ways to get some nature in your life. Each state, each city, each neighborhood has its own unique way to access and celebrate nature. If a window is all you’ve got- OPEN IT. If you live in a city with not so great air, maybe get some plants? Or, take a walk or drive once in a while when you can, and find your version of nature. Take time for yourself, value yourself, treat yourself. (See what I did there) What I mean to say is- where there is a will, there’s a way. And I encourage everyone to try and find that way!
Hot tip: When you can’t get outside, or just when you need a moment, it can help to take a nice, deep breath. It is the most intimate way to practice connection, and anyone can do it at any time. Iiiiiiiiiiin & ouuuuuuuut.