The Gift of Nature

It has been our family’s “release” during this last year.
Whether it was getting out on a walk in our neighborhood to escape our own four walls, our kids building forts for hours in our backyard, or passing time on one of our many hikes along the calming trails of the Pittsburgh Parks ... there’s no doubt nature has served a healthy outlet for us as we've tried to find ways to manage our physical and mental health.
Nature has been that for many of us, hasn’t it?
A place to escape. To find peace. To de-stress. Or to just sit and appreciate the stillness that exists even when a breeze comes in.
As we're all a little more reflective on what (and who) has gotten us through this year — many of us are reflecting on the kinds of gifts we want to give this holiday season, too.

If YOU are still looking for a gift for someone you love, my partner in the

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy has a beautiful option.
Through their Restoration Tree Fund, you can give a gift to someone this year that lasts beyond the final drop of wrapping paper.
Whether it’s for your nature-loving kids who might think it’s awesome that a tree was planted in their name.
Or it’s a gift to the entire family in tribute of someone you may have lost this year.
Or as a unique gesture to show your planet-loving friend that you truly know what matters to them.
Or simply for someone who doesn’t want another “thing” for a gift and might appreciate something unique.
Head to to see how you can give a little differently this year in honor of a person you love a little exceptionally. (And bonus, no last-minute shipping required)
Thanks to nature for the gift of peace … in a year we certainly needed it.
By: Brea Schmidt, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy Partner 

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 .

The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy believes that being outdoors and in the parks are a wonderful outlet if the stress and anxiety of the current situation is weighing heavily on you and your loved ones. Be sure to spend time outdoors to help decompress; explore a new trail, listen to the birds; read a book; play catch with your children. Be sure to follow all physical distancing recommendations from the CDC and avoid surfaces where the virus can live such as handrails and playground equipment. And be sure to wash your hands when you get home.