30X30 Challenge – A Diary


Thirty minutes of nature, for thirty days – the 30X30 Challenge.

by Celia Lee

Day 1: Yamnuska trail. Look up to find I’ve walked into herd of mule deer. Flash back to horror story from youth about evil deer. Creep silently away. Overcome great fear of falling on icy rocks, am filled with sweet, sweet adrenaline. Wild turkey tries to exert dominance. Eat copious amounts of cheese. Sleep deeply.

IMG_6539Day 3: Middle Lake. First selfie. :/

Day 7:  10:00AM. Stare at blinker on screen. Glance at empty notebook. Experience mounting malaise. Get up. Put on kettle. Eat rice cracker. Sit. Stare at blinker. Feel sinking weight of failure. Check Twitter. Make list. Feel better. Sit back at computer. Check email. Stare at blinker.

11:00AM Sit at ContainR park in Kensington. Contextualize relevance of blog I’m trying to write within scope of universe. 

xander_basementSigh, release shoulders, squint at sun. Transcribe two interviews in 1.5 hours. Back to office. Catch up on all email. To quote Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, “Oh, the pain. The pain… is GONE.” 




Day 15: Montreal, winning at parks.  

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Day 20: Mississauga, Ontario – place of birth. Go for run. Notice how pretty river is. 

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Find this cat:

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Find these birds:

Find this birdie:









Jogging soundtrack (to drown out all that nature racket): Beyonce, Chet Baker (Coool Jazz Moods) 

All that nature racket:


(First person to name all the birds in this clip gets a free car. Juuuuust kidding. You’ll have to settle for our measly respect and admiration. Also, I don’t know what kind they are, so I’ll have to take your word for it. Check out the Audubon Society for bird species and bird calls, like this Song Sparrow.)

Minutes spent actually running: 5

Day 22: Get locked out of apartment. Forced to wait on rooftop with the trees and the birds, waiting for locksmith. 


Day 23: Run errands. Procrastinate. Sit down at computer. Check Facebook. Stare at blinker.

DUDE. You know the drill.

Take notebook and pen outside in sun. Leave cell phone behind. Stare into space. Chat with person who walks by. Fall into flow in less than a minute.




One more week left, and hoping I keep this up beyond the Challenge. The toughest thing isn’t spending the full 30 minutes outside – I’ve gone well over every time  – it’s realizing that getting out into nature isn’t procrastination.

Being in nature has always given me perspective. In this case, it would seem the world doesn’t hinge on me making that one phone call, or completing that one blog – which makes it way less intimidating to pick up the phone, or put pen to page. A wise person I know repeatedly tells me, “Family first. Then exercise. Then work.” The idea is that exercise makes the work more efficient and enjoyable. Great advice. Now I would add that that exercise is best performed in or around nature, or, if you’re in the City, around, or preferably under, trees, preferably pine trees. Which is great food for thought for City and Provincial policies and funding streams… but then that’s a whole other blog.

For more on the benefits of nature, check out this David Suzuki Foundation infographic.

If you’re still reading, I’ll finish off with this collection of pictures of places I like:

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And this soundclip of an indignant cow:


Happy spring!


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