The Notepad is a monthly column written by @rubyclaireee exploring what it means to be a guest on this wild and abundant planet. Most of these thoughts have been scribbled, in some way, in the notepad she carries in her backpack (or pannier).


Sometimes we feel restless in nature. Out of our comfort zones and out of our depth. Ruby is trying to find rest instead of escape in wild places.

I suffer from complex post traumatic stress disorder and was recently diagnosed with and medicated for ADHD. I can be chaotic and erratic, creative and passionate, hyper-focused and extremely distracted.

In the past, I’ve sabotaged healthy and safe relationships without understanding why, and, to this day, suffer from panic attacks and anxiety. The subtlety of my triggers baffle me every time.

Before I was diagnosed, when I was in my early 20s and living a frivolous self-employed life of short-lived flings and ad hoc jobs, I would find safety in the act of escaping to nature.


Whenever I felt fire in my bones I’d hurriedly pack my bags and leave. I’d wrap my tent and journal in the whimsy of spontaneity and pick a point on the map and drive drive drive.

It’s amazing how quickly this soothed me. Both the act of flight and the act of completely submerging myself in the familiarity of expansive landscape.

I’d pitch my tent in a paddock on my own and lie on a blanket and look at the trees and listen to the birds and breathe deeply and slowly, each breath serving as massage for the nervous system. Sometimes I’d walk instead. Rest in motion.

This coping strategy worked for me, and it worked with my lifestyle at the time. But coping mechanisms have a way of catching up with you.

As I settled into a long-term rental agreement, a serious relationship, and a business that required me to be present for staff and growth, I was no longer able to take flight the way I once did. Suddenly, I needed to learn the difference between unhealthy coping strategies and a genuine quest for rest.



Through the privilege of therapy, I was able to learn that peace and escape are not mutually exclusive. Escape, for me, was a trauma response. A survival instinct. The heightened and unsustainable need to RUN, FAST. The peace found while outdoors on the other hand, was the rest that my body needed to heal.

As I slowly peeled the velcro strips off each other, I discovered that the peace I once ran to was available much closer to home.

So much of adventure writing is about going far away and squeezing the marrow out of every damn minute by rapelling down canyons and hiking to the top of mountains.

There’s a kind of charged energy about it. I love this, and as a writer, I contribute to this message as well. But I think there must be more space to talk about nature and the places we go as sources of comfort, peace, and calm. 

The beauty of this lens is that accessing the outdoors in this way doesn’t require big plans and long drives and expensive gear. It just requires time, a little bit of green grass, and maybe a body of water to dip your toes into.