Editor note: ?My Outdoor Family? is a regular column in the Outdoor Families Magazine calendar. Written by readers who represent every facet of an outside lifestyle, these monthly opportunities seek to inspire and encourage, remind and reminisce about a personal love for and commitment to the outdoors. Not everyone is ready to tackle the summit of a mountain, just as some people wouldn?t know how to begin looking for nature in an urban space. This is where readers can share the how and why and what of their outdoor lives, and we want to hear your story. Tell us, in 600 words or less, about your ?Outdoor Family.? Send your story to email@example.com. We can’t wait to read it. ~Erin Kirkland, Managing Editor
The Lehmans: Traci, Julia (11), and Serena (8)
Our family connects outside. We walk and talk, play on sandy beaches, and hike trails under soaring trees. We make our way in Orange County, California where we live together in open air and snow-free conditions, all year. My career keeps me indoors as an IT analyst, but my love of nature takes me outdoors for fun and relaxation. In addition, I write about all things outdoor as a member of #teamSierra for Sierra Trading Post, a content contributor for Nature Valley, and on my personal website, Walk Simply.
Our outdoor family history
Growing up not far from our current home, I spent my youth at the beach, swimming and body surfing, playing traditional sports, skateboarding, and riding bikes. My family traveled, often taking to the road for camping adventures. This love of road trips and scenic exploration stayed with me and I now share that with my girls as a single parent. For us, the outdoors is a necessity from within and I opt to go there, daily. Normally, I would describe our family as easygoing nature lovers, but life is hectic and as I age, I find myself trying to keep outdoor time uncomplicated, seeing no need to ?muddle? the simplicity of my outdoors.
Our outdoor family favorites
Given the choice, our activities lean toward hiking and swimming. Since we spend a lot of time near and in the Pacific Ocean, swimming proficiency is a high priority. In my youth, I sailed for a bit, and I would love to sail again, this time as a family. Mostly, though, we enjoy exploring the ocean?s edge, walking with sand between our toes, searching for marine life, staring at shimmering sunsets, and listening to the roar of waves. Road travel is something we will continue to do. My girls enjoyed a weeklong road trip up the Central Coast of California. We shared campfires with new friends, hiked, explored, and made new memories.
Our outdoor family values
Big adventures are awesome, but more important is incorporating the outdoors into our everyday life. At the office, I spend breaks outside, walking and sponging up the fresh air. I enjoy casual hiking for its simplicity; little prep, little gear, and almost no cost. We can plan as little or as much as we want, stepping out our front door to local city trails if we want to keep it basic, and on many occasions, we do. I value the raising of well-rounded children who are exposed to new experiences that develop confidence and life skills. I try to model a healthy, active lifestyle, slipping away from daily distractions, conversing freely. When we?re together, walking and talking is how we reconnect, and unify. Awesome adventures are a blessing, but it is everyday experiences that shape who we are. Daily walks to and from school, the exploration of our local creek, discussions about the types of trees we see and wildlife nearby. Even watching my daughter notice crows that fly ?home? each night, or hear her comment about a lovely sunset cements my efforts, as these small events show me our outdoor life is having an impact on the young woman she is rapidly becoming. I hope my children grow to love and appreciate our natural world. I want them to find solace and comfort outdoors, to believe they can do anything. I hope they find joy in nature and realize its gift.
Traci Lehman is the Operations Director?for Outdoor Families Magazine.?
Such an inspirational story, Traci! And it’s wonderful to see a single mum featured. I’m also a single Mum (with a 5 year old daughter) and we’ve had so many outdoors adventures pretty much from the time she was born. She did her first overnight hike a couple of weeks ago (24kms in two days!) I can already see her time outside shaping her values and she expresses the same kind of joy in being outdoors as you see in your girls.
Fiona – Melbourne, Australia
Jennifer Fontaine says
So beautiful, Fiona! What a gift you are giving your daughter. Thank you for taking the time to connect with us and comment.
Traci Lehman says
Thank you, Fiona, for your comments and visiting all the way from Australia! Enjoy your time spent outdoors with your daughter.
Donna O'Brien says
WOW Traci I am awed by your article. It is so well written and so inspirational. You have done such an amazing job raising your girls to enjoy the great outdoors and all it has to offer. I wish you continued success not only with the job you are doing raising your girls but with your writing as well. Kudos to you!!!! Love, Auntie Donna
Traci Lehman says
Thanks so much, Auntie Donna! It’s so nice of you to say. Miss you guys!
Coombe Mill says
I can so sympathise with what you say here, big adventures are amazing but take time, planning and courage, it is just as important to make outdoor ftime, simple, enjoyable and easy, it sounds like you have a perfect balance. Thank you for sharing with me on Country Kids.