A Letter of Thanks to Nature

Dear Nature,

You've always been talked about as being important. But 2020? This was your year. Because for all of the times you may have been taken for granted, this was the year we were reminded Just. How. Important. You Are.

This year... was the year of YOU. When I was worried about the interruption in my kids' education, you reminded me that you challenge my kids' minds every day. Whether it's the funny-looking bug they found in the backyard about which they wanted to learn more, or the unique flower they examined when we discovered it on a hike through the park -- I was reminded just how much curiosity you spark, and just how much knowledge they have to gain from YOU.

When I was worried about losing access to the things that helped me manage my mental health, you reminded me that you never went away. The calm you brought with the birds singing to me during my morning coffee on my back porch, the fresh air you provided while on a walk through my neighborhood, the calming breeze you would send through my hair when I went outside to take a deep breath in the midst of homeschooling -- I was reminded I still had YOU.

When I was sad about losing vacations and other adventures on which my family loves to embark, you reminded me to teach my kids that adventure is anywhere you make it. Because my kids still talk about that one day we packed a lunch, grabbed our masks and headed out to discover a new hiking trail. It was the family time and the fun of discovery that was the adventure. YOU helped us find adventure.

When I desperately needed interaction with a friend - your areas of open grass and moving air provided us a safe space to interact. Whether it was a physically distant coffee at a park, a 6-ft-between us walk on a trail or safely-spaced lawn chairs around a fire made from sticks from the backyard ... YOU were a place we could turn.

When I was more conscious than ever about my physical health, you gave me a place to safely help make it stronger. Whether it was yoga in the park, a run through a dirt trail or a hike with my family - YOU gave me a safe space to make sure I could keep my body strong. Y

es, Nature -- this year, we needed you ... and you showed up. As we all reflect back on this unique time -- and think about the things that, and the people who, truly mattered most -- YOU are high on that list.

And as we move forward into whatever the future has for us, I hope we don't forget what you did for us. The peaceful moments. The adventure. The safe space. A place to retreat to when we needed "me" time. A place to "be."

For that, Nature... We thank YOU.

Brea Schmidt is a Pittsburgh-based speaker, photographer, and Iris-Award nominated writer who aims to generate authentic conversation about motherhood and daily life on her blog, The Thinking Branch Follow along with her messages of positivity and perspective on Facebook and Instagram .