"Women, books & the outdoors will save the world."
I first wrote the above sentence as Outdoor Book Club's "manifesto" back in 2015, a year and a half after I'd first stepped out onto the trail at Blandford Nature Center with 10 women, almost all of whom were strangers, on a freezing cold January day:
This photo was taken before I launched the website, before I'd met hundreds of women who also loved the outdoors and books, before I won a bunch of money to start a travel business in a 2014 business plan competition.
But the most important thing this photo represents?
The beginning of an amazing friendship with some of the women in the photo, whom I met for the first time that day.
On New Year's Resolutions
More and more, I notice people no longer set New Year's resolutions and instead pick a yearly word (or words) to live by. One friend picked the word "Adventure" a few years back, but found that 12 months of constant activity was exhausting. Not all the adventures she encountered were good ones. The next she picked joy. That seemed to work better. This year she chose “Engage.”
I love author and spiritual badass Danielle LaPorte. Whenever she comes out with a new book or planner I try to support her work through buying one, but frankly, I keep returning to her book The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals With Soul for inspiration (The Fire Starter Sessions is also really, really good.)
In the book, LaPorte suggests setting goals by how you want to feel. The feeling(s) are the goal. That way, there's room for moving and wiggling — if you want to feel “accomplished,” it doesn't really matter if you get the corner suite or lose 15 pounds, either way, you're a winner. You've reached your goal.
What does it look like in action?
Every year I have to think long and hard about which feelings I want to focus on. This year, after weeks of ruminating, I think I know what those words are. She suggests 2-4 words. I picked four words, but really they are two sets of two words; they work together.
CREATE and CONNECT
In 2015 I had to give up Outdoor Book Club, or at least the business model that I was operating it under. I couldn't do the guided trips anymore — not only did they suck the life out of me, doing all the prep, the marketing, providing the gear, agenda planning, making reservations, figuring out meals — they simply weren't profitable. I couldn't support my family emotionally or financially.
Four years later, it feels right to relaunch Outdoor Book Club as a movement. I’ve seen first hand how powerfully the combination of books and the outdoors resonates with women.
What does that mean?
It means I want to CREATE conversations around books, nature and women. And those conversations lead women to CONNECT.
Outdoor Book Club, in 2019 and beyond, needs to be about creativity and connection. If I'm not focusing on activities that do either of those things, then I know I'm focusing on the wrong things.
GRACE and GRITIn her book Grace (Eventually) Anne Lamott describes GRACE (which also happens to be my daughter's name) as "A ribbon of mountain air that gets in through the cracks.” She adds, “I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us where we are and does not leave us where it found us.”
I think of grace as "a proactive acceptance, love and caring for our fellow human beings — and ourselves.”
Grace often shows up in my life as:
Which brings us to GRIT.
I've been a fan of researcher Angela Duckworth's book Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance for awhile — it uses actual data to help us learn how to be better people. While I can spend all my time trying to forgive myself and quiet my inner critic, I also need the grit to push through and meet my goals. Yes, it’s hard to keep pushing. No, we often don’t want to take one more exhausting step forward. But are we capable of hiking up our proverbial skirts and pushing forward anyway? Yes.
The answer is almost always yes.
Grace & grit: the peanut butter and chocolate of self-improvement.
The future of Outdoor Book Club
So if you've been with me from the beginning (and not just the beginning of this piece — though congrats if you just showed up here, started reading and are not at the end!), if you started watching or reading or following OBC way back in 2013 when I first conceived the idea, thank you. My gratitude is unbounded.
(If you actually went on a trip & endured my bumbling and scrambling event planning skills and still managed to have a great time, THANK YOU. Years later, I'm still inspired by your passion and commitment to books and the outdoors.)
If you're new around here, WELCOME. I'm so glad you're here. If you like what you see here and want to keep up with what's going on, stop by and follow/like the Outdoor Book Club Facebook page.
Here’s what you can expect going forward:
Also, what words will you be living by this year? Let me know so I can send some good vibes your way, or create something that might help you along your journey, or connect you with a person or resource that can help.
And of course I'll do it with creativity and connection; grace and grit. Because women, books & the outdoors will save the world.
Jill Hinton Wolfe
Chief Heroine, Outdoor Book Club
P.S. Please share Outdoor Book Club with a woman you love! Sign up for our newsletter, share the manifesto to your social media feed or join the online OBC community. We can't start a movement without an army of women's strength, grace and beauty behind it!
Jill Hinton Wolfe,
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