For years I have spoken about the healing benefits of being outdoors in nature. I have spent the past few years deep in research and can cite incredible data and studies on what nature does to our bodies and brains. More and more research is showing the positive effects on our overall health both physical and mental. On occasion I have alluded to the fact that not only has nature been a part of my entire life’s journey, it has helped heal me in many ways. This is where that conversation always ended, that’s it, nothing more. Nature saved me, healed me and gave me purpose time and time again. I just didn’t realize it until nature slowed me down enough to acknowledge it.

I have come to the point where I can’t fully expect someone to truly grasp the healing benefits if I wasn’t able to be honest, truly open in the ways that nature has healed me and has made a huge impact on my mental health. I have put things away, tucked far away into a box where there is no light and no light needed. Only on occassion have I decided to open that box and give some light to it, only to quickly put it back even further away from the light. Why did I feel the need to do that? Trauma does tricky things to you and often times it makes you just feel bad so why would anyone want to bring it to light in the first place?

People have whispered in my ear for years, the truth will set you free. Why don’t you write a book? Why don’t you tell more of the pieces? My response was always, it’s pretty messy. Funny, seeing that I have built a life in beauty, no one would believe how messy it really became and then the thoughts of who would even care if I told my story?

I have been shielding myself from my very own narrative. It was easier to keep things easy breezy and well, out of mind. I have become so accustomed to putting my best, well-moisturized, fully glossed, well-contoured face forward for 10 years and putting that highlight reel out into the world.

My dearest friends knew the real story, they new the pain, heartache and what I have finally been able to say out loud, the trauma of it all.

So, how did nature truly save me almost 10 years ago? Deep breath, here I go…

I had to sell off my company in 2010. I had no other choice.

The company that I began formulating the concept for in 1997, that became the very first omnichannel beauty business in the United States, that which gave me such great pride, joy, and and absolute sense of community was gone. Everything that I had created and built was gone. The demise? My CFO mishandled monies. The company was fully mine, 100 percent owned by me. When I finally realized the mishandling of money, a lot of money, it was too late. The more I peeled back what was going or what was happening unbeknownst to me, the more my heart broke. My stomach lay on the floor next to me. I was motionless when the unraveling began.

Months of lawyer visits and meetings with others to get financially soluble would seem impossible. The CFO’s actions, which were ultilmately on my shoulders and were up to me to keep track of, wiped out my business. Did this onslaught stop after the first few months of lawyers? The answer to that is no. I would keep getting slapped with more and more that I had yet to unearth.

I felt utterly life-jacked. Who was I now? No one really knew what was happening, the rumors were rampant, the pain I felt was all-consuming. I was mad every single day, I couldn’t feel anything anymore. I moved back to NYC to sell off the Beauty Bar of then, not the Beauty Bar of its former self before the land-blasting. I was married (which was quickly coming to an end); I had wonderful friends, an incredible community which I loved, my loving family close by, and I packed up my clothes, my dog, and a few tiny belongings and had to start over, a brand new life at 38 years old and a thousand miles away from my former life. I left everything behind, including my comfort, to start over and had no idea what that would look like. Change was happening in a big way and I had to be ok with that, I had to be OK with me to go through all of it.

I moved back to NYC in the midst of one of the coldest winters, but I was from NYC and quite honestly love cold weather much more so than the hot temps I was living in before. I was getting adjusted, just me and my dog and some great new friends.

I spent every day in Central Park with my dog. While I was still reeling with the acceptance of a brand new life, being outdoors for at least an hour a day made me feel better. For that hour I wasn’t thinking or worrying or scared, I was fully there immersed in the snow, the sleet, the rain, the sunshine the beauty of nature during the seasons. All of it just made me happy. There were days during that first year of the buyout and I was working for the company that bought me out that I felt guilty for being so happy in the midst of the turmoil that was outside the gates of that park wall. The park became my respite from the angry news of the outside world.

Many of my new friends asked what kind of medications I was taking to get through all of it? My response was always, jokingly, nature! My daily dose of nature helped me get through a time that left me shaken to my core. I got lots of hate mail for awhile. People couldn’t understand why I would ever shut down my business. I even had some of my beauty brand partners say that they didn’t want to work with this new business, that it wasn’t the same. It was all so hard. I remember thinking over and over again that this is too big for me to handle, there is too much fallout, impact, pain, anger and for almost two years I endured it until it began to quiet down. The hardest part of all was that the CFO was not only someone I trusted, but someone I loved very deeply.

I have continued to grow, learn, and evolve. I have even created other businesses and co-founded yet another. It has never been easy, any of it. It has been a constant road less traveled which often makes for difficult roads ahead. I had to transform my fear and not transmit it, and the one place I would go back to day after day was the woods. It gave me strength. The woods gave me hope, always.

Nature accepted me, all of me fully. I wasn’t judged there, I didn’t have to be perfectly manicured or have a fresh blowout. I was just me, freely me and that was a gift that I fully recognized. For years I felt alone like I was no longer a part of anything yet a part of everything. Odd statement, but true, the park was the one real place that I went back to every day and began to study and learn about the healing power that nature has on all of us.

There is only one place I found hope — it was in the present moment in nature and its inclusiveness.

I have found that success isn’t in the thing or the ownership of anything, it is 100 percent inside each of us that gives us peace, comfort, and joy. I left everything that I physically owned when I moved out of Florida almost 10 years ago. I never accumulated more “stuff” here in the city. I live very simply in my apartment and nature continues to heal me, support me, inspire me, encourage me every single day. I feel like I live in abundance always.

Nature helped me redefine my center. It helped breathe life back into me. The more time I spent in nature, photographing it, walking in it, being thankful for it, and truly studying it, the happier I was. It became my spiritual practice in thanking God for the lessons, the beauty of the moments, and for bringing me back to it. For without the undoing, I might not have been able seen how beautiful life can be when you have to live fully with nothing but feel like you have everything. Nature also gave me a new purpose, to get others outdoors in it and to help others learn about the incredible power that parks and nature provide. I would have never have expected that the nature that helped heal me also gave me an abundance of work. Work that helps bring people of all walks of life outdoors. To put a spotlight on nature and the people and brands that are not only using nature in all that they do but also protecting it. Nature was the impetus for my Walk with Walsh video series. I continue to learn, study, research and share what I know about natures healing benefits.

This is how nature healed me.

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