Linda McGurk: Rain or Shine Mamma
When did your love of the outdoors begin? I think it’s hard to pinpoint a certain time when my love for the outdoors started, because I’ve always been immersed in it. Part of that is just due to having grown up in Scandinavia, where people really cherish nature and live by the motto “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothes.” Getting outside every day and enjoying the natural world – whether by taking a walk in the woods, digging in the garden or going skiing – seems to be part of our fabric. I grew up hiking, camping and roaming freely in the woods behind our house and somewhere along the way I developed a bond with nature that only gets stronger with time. My love for the outdoors also led to a passion for the environment and the welfare of all living beings, and I started to become an activist of sorts when I was in elementary school.
What inspired you to start blogging about you and your children's interactions with nature?
I’ve come to believe that one of the greatest things that we can do to help create a sustainable future for this planet is to make sure our children have positive interactions with nature early in life. When they grow up playing in creeks, catching bugs, watching birds and climbing trees, they’re also more likely to care to protect the environment later in life. You can teach them all you want about global warming and the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest in the classroom, but without first-hand experiences with nature those facts won’t mean anything, and may even scare them. Unfortunately, it’s becoming rare to see children playing outside today and I thought the blog could be a way to help change that in a small way.
When did you start your blog and how has it changed or grown since its inception (if it has)?
I started blogging last September and my following keeps growing steadily. But the biggest benefits to me personally so far has been that it’s allowed me to connect with like-minded people all over the world – Australia, England, Canada, the US – in a way that I never had imagined. I feel like I’m part of a new nature movement and it’s something I’m very excited about.
What do you hope people learn from or take away from your writing and experiences?
There are a lot of barriers to letting children play outside today – safety, electronics, time, organized sports and so forth. I think fear of abductions, fear of the weather and fear of nature itself is particularly common here in the US and I hope that people who read my blog will feel empowered by my perspective, which is undoubtedly shaped by my upbringing in Sweden. I also hope that parents will be inspired by the many nature crafts and outdoor activities that I share on the blog and use them as a way to get outside with their kids as often as they can and start connecting with nature. The message that I ultimately want people to take to heart is that spending time in nature needs to be a priority – both for the sake of our kids’ health and development, and for the sake of the environment.
How has your blog changed your daily experience with nature?
I think it has made my interactions with nature more purposeful. Though I’ve always made it a priority to get outside every day, I’ve become a lot more prone to try new things for the sake of the blog. I’ve also started following other bloggers who write about connecting children with nature, so I keep finding new, fun ideas for nature crafts and other activities. And any time we’re outside now, whether tracking animals or digging for worms, I always have the blog in the back of my mind and try to think of ways to share what we’re doing with my readers.
Has this undertaking affected your relationship with your children? If so, how?
I think it has had a positive effect because it has made me even more determined to set goals for having quality time in nature every day, and I can tell that it’s good for us as a family. Nature has a calming effect, so I think it’s even more important to get outside when the kids have had a rough day or I’m feeling tired. But I do have to be careful not to get too involved with the blog, because it’s a big time guzzler. The last thing I would want is to get stuck in front of the computer when what I really want to do is spend more time in the outdoors.
Do you have any future plans to develop your business in new ways?
The blog is not as much a business as it is a platform to further an idea, so my main goal at this point is to grow my following and get my stories out to more people. I still work as a freelance writer and photographer but in the future I would love it if the blog could lead to new opportunities, for example working with environmental education and writing more about the connection between children and nature. I’m also working on a book on this topic that I’m hoping to finish and have published in the next couple of years.
Linda McGurk is a writer and photographer who grew up in Sweden, approximately on the same latitude as the Gulf of Alaska. She graduated from the School of Journalism at Gothenburg University in 2003 and moved to the US the same year. She is now a naturalized US citizen and lives in rural Indiana with her American husband and two young daughters. A journalist specializing in conservation, organic farming, renewable energy, the outdoors, forest schools, whole foods and children’s health, her work has appeared in a wide range of newspapers and magazines in North America as well as Scandinavia.
McGurk is an avid outdoorswoman who enjoys hiking, camping, skiing and biking, but is just as contented lying on her back in the grass and gazing at the clouds. She also volunteers to educate children about the natural world and is a co-founder of Green Minds, a grassroots organization that advocates for local, healthy living and aims to create sustainable communities through education and leading by example. On her blog Rain or Shine Mamma (www.rainorshinemamma.com) she writes about connecting children with nature and hopes to inspire other families to get outside every day, regardless of weather. Contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Submitted by Amanda Shepherd