How connection with nature saved me

Some 14 years ago, in what seems like a different life, I went through a strange time. As the memorable phrase from Charles Dickens put it: it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

In June 2008, when I was 28, my then husband and I secured a mortgage (no small feat) and moved to the countryside. I had a successful exhibition at Chelsea Flower Show, quit my job, and went full time with my botanical art, beginning to work from home. And THAT meant I was in a position to fulfil a years-long dream of getting a puppy. 

Cue long hours spent working on botanical paintings, interspersed with photography trips to gardens and daily walks in the beautiful woodlands of the Surrey Hills with my pup.

nature connectedness

I’d grown up in the countryside, but having lived in towns for years, I saw and felt the presence of nature anew. Its beauty was so inspiring and soothing.

Those moments where I reconnected with nature were the best of times.

But, having ditched the office, my only daily human connection became my husband. Slight issue here: he had substance abuse issues and was increasingly abusive towards me. 

I had got into the relationship at age 21. He was 10 years older. It was never right. And slowly, drip by drip, it got worse and worse.

I’d really wanted the marriage to work.

It has taken me the decade-or-so since to fully understand why. A combination of deeply caring for him, fearing how he would be if I left, and fearing what people would think of me if my marriage failed, kept me stuck. So in psychology speak I ‘enabled’ his bad behaviour to carry on, living in hope of him changing. 

But all that distraction-free walking in nature helped me reconnect with myself.

I could no longer ignore the huge heartache in my life. I realised I needed to end the marriage. 

The very day I had decided I would do it, I had a hospital appointment in the morning.

Just the results from a routine biopsy of a thyroid lump. They had told me 95% of them were benign and not to worry. So it came as quite the shock when the consultant I met with told me it was cancer and I needed surgery within the next 2 weeks.

Reeling from the news, I put out of my mind the decision to leave. 

For one thing, I felt I couldn’t cope with both things at once. But I also hoped maybe he’d be shocked into changing and being kinder to me.

And he was, for a little while. 

It took me a further 2.5 years to again reach the point of leaving, and actually do it.

And in those 2.5 years I dealt with the cancer treatment, his deteriorating behaviour towards me, as well as the loneliness and isolation that comes from being in a toxic relationship and keeping it from everyone in my life.

It was the worst of times.

I recently unearthed these photos from a very special nature walk -taken in the time between the cancer treatments I had.

But with my sweet pup, my daily nature walks and nature-painting, I survived that horrible time. I know that connection with nature (and my pet) provided me with a lifeline. And yes, on some days I even hugged a particularly huggable tree!

Now, in much better times, with a very kind husband and two adorable young children, I am blessed with lots of loving human connection.

But I will never forget the life-giving power of connection with nature. It’s something I now consider vital to my well-being.

And those woods still feel like the dearest of old friends.

What IS connection with nature?

Connecting with nature goes beyond simply getting outdoors. In my experience it’s a feeling: of aliveness, one-ness and a version of, well, love.

As Professor Miles Richardson from the Nature Connectedness Research Group at the University of Derby writes:

‘Nature connectedness’ refers to the way we relate to and experience nature. A strong connection with nature means feeling a close relationship or an emotional attachment to our natural surroundings.’

The group has identified 5 ‘pathways’ to connection:

  • Senses – Tuning in to nature through the senses.
  • Emotion – Feeling alive through the emotions and feelings nature brings.
  • Beauty – Noticing nature’s beauty.
  • Meaning – Nature bringing meaning to our lives.
  • Compassion – Caring and taking action for nature.

All of these were present for me on my nature walks, and the beauty pathway (my fave!) was also in near constant use for me as I painted.

Nature connection for well-being 

The research is clear, the effects of nature connection on our well-being is huge. 

Sometimes the smallest glance of nature out of the window is enough to feel a little wave of peace wash over us.

OK, maybe we can’t always manage peace, but perhaps a little  ‘aaaah’ moment where the stress dial is turned down a smidge?

That ‘aaaah’ feeling is there for us, whenever we give ourselves a moment to connect with nature.

But during the coldest part of the year (at least here in the UK) it’s easy to brush off, or even battle against, the elements, as we wait for the fresh, green shoots of spring. And let’s not forget how the rush of life can convince us that we don’t have time for these precious moments. 

In fact, we can get so busy we don’t just forget about nature, but we forget to breathe deeply and even forget about ourselves.

We ARE nature

In his book ‘Waking From Sleep: Why Awakening Experiences Occur and How to Make them Permanent’, Steve Taylor describes how our perception of the world can be so automatic that we can easily forget the aliveness of what surrounds us. This can mean that we start to see the world around us – and even ourselves – as separate.

Everyone from poets like Rumi and the Desert Fathers, to artists and environmentalists have mused on the significance of this (dis)connection from nature. Sculptor Andy Goldsworthy captures it neatly:

“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost connection to nature, we’ve lost connection to ourselves” – Andy Goldsworthy

enjoying a nature moment
Taking an 'ahh moment' to breathe the fresh air and listen to the sounds of nature at what was a really difficult time.

Nature Helps Our Mind, Body & Soul

Being in a town or city, with all the concrete, traffic and sirens can make it even harder to find those ‘aaaah’ moments. In fact, studies have found that being in an urban and concrete-heavy environment can increase feelings of depression.

But what’s amazing is that the opposite is true.

Just like a quick glimpse of nature can turn down the stress dial, researchers have found that ‘Shinrin-yoku’ – which roughly translates from Japanese as ‘taking in the forest atmosphere’ – can have a powerful impact on our well-being.

In fact, just two hours of forest bathing can lower blood pressure, increase positive emotions and reduce cortisol.

An antidote to loneliness

Luckily, you don’t need to have a forest to bathe in to get the benefits. Scientists have discovered that just being able to see the sky, trees or hear birds in a city can decrease feelings of loneliness by up to 28%. Yes, that’s the same loneliness that can raise a person’s risk of dying by 45% – more than obesity, air pollution or alcohol abuse.

So a walk in the park, or even looking out of the window, doesn’t just give us a lovely ‘aaaah’ moment, but it’s actually an act of self-care. 

But, you knew that already, right?

Or at least your body did when it caught sight of that crisp winter morning from the window before the rush of the day began. 

This is something that many of us experienced during the first Covid lockdown.

When the whole world was shifting around us and we couldn’t be with our loved ones, many people were – and still are – naturally drawn to nearby parks, forests and gardens for comfort, solace and connection. An antidote to loneliness.

Making nature-inspired art for connection

So we know that connecting with nature is good for us, so much so that even looking at a picture of nature can help our stress levels, which, by the way, gives us another great reason to keep taking and collecting nature photos that inspire us.

And we know that making art is good for us, as it lowers our stress hormone, cortisol… and that’s been proven to be the case no matter what standard, or level we’re creating at. Even if we’re total newbies. 

But what about art and nature combined?

Well, just like peanut butter and jelly, some things are just better together and it turns out that a blend of art and nature is so powerful that ‘green prescriptions’, which blend creative arts with nature-based activities, have been found to significantly improve the mental health of adults.

In other words, creating nature-inspired art isn’t just a way to improve our well-being and lower our stress levels, but it can be a way to connect with both nature and ourselves.

Because we are nature. 

By gently allowing nature to inspire you, especially through the powerful combination of nature-inspired art, you can connect with yourself, counter loneliness and bring yourself moments you will treasure as the best of times, no matter what else is going on in your life.

I’d absolutely love to hear about your experiences of connecting with nature. How does nature inspire your creativity? Please do share your thoughts and comments below.

Happy painting,

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167 Comments

  1. Maryjane Çoban on February 8, 2022 at 3:19 pm

    Nature walks sounds so therapeutic. I am a huge flower fan and I love botanical garden walks. Have a peaceful day❤️

    • Lindsay on February 8, 2022 at 5:26 pm

      The pandemic’s imposed isolation wasn’t quite “enough” for me, especially dealing with pre-pandemic anxiety and depression. As I couldn’t go out for sunset walks anymore and my skyline was limited to the yard level for several months, I let myself go with my inner child impulse. For weeks during the whole fall season, I’d climb the litchi tree right outside the front door. In my new little bubble, surrounded by treetops covered with yellow flowers, uncountable birds and butterflies, and the warm touch of soft sunlight on my skin, I found my piece of heaven. Those moments were something else and it feels good just to think of. Also, I’d totally forget I was 40+ years old up there haha.

      • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:36 pm

        What a great visual you’ve given us there Lindsay of you up your tree, enjoying nature! Wonderful to be in touch with that inner little one 🙂

        • Narelle Clarke on February 19, 2022 at 12:45 pm

          Hi Anna i want to thank you for teaching me how to paint. Your method has allowed me to paint with confidence and joy the natural environment I am privileged to live with in Armidale NSW Australia. It is so different from where you live but equally as precious.
          Like you my first marriage was a train wreck for similar reason. With the benefit of hind sight I have no regrets and I hope you feel the same. Thanks again for the gift of painting from and with nature. It has been life affirming and life changing in such a peaceful way.

      • Monica Wallace on February 11, 2022 at 3:04 am

        Oh how divine to let your inner child revel!

        I loved climbing an apricot tree as a child and your description brought me right back to the feeling of the bark and the taste of semi-firm, fleshy, pinkish orange apricots.

        Thank you.

  2. Deb on February 8, 2022 at 3:21 pm

    Loved this. Spot on! We are nature and Mother Nature rules. Thanks for sharing your experience and reminding us of this!

    • Jamie Mastrovich on February 8, 2022 at 9:36 pm

      Hi Anna, thank you for sharing your very personal story, I truly needed to hear it. I am 52 and at the end of June of this year, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. This followed a full hysterectomy for the same reason in 2019. The cancer is estrogen positive, and I had a double mastectomy roughly 4 weeks after my diagnosis. I was shocked and I think everyone thought I was,”a trooper” because I was fuelled by fear and adrenaline. Now I am dumb struck wondering how this happened. I do not drink alcohol and never have, we have no family history and I eat a healthy organic diet. Apparently it’s “environmental”. Nonetheless it leaves me feeling like the odd duck out. Perhaps if I had done some of those things I could understand and know what to do differently. I find that I look at others now, happy that they have never had this diagnosis but wonder as well why I did. Everyone’s lives seem so carefree and blissful and I am grateful. I am so lucky in so many ways. I too was married to someone who wasn’t very nice at all and was abusive, but have been happily married for 15 years. I love your classes and always but never would have thought you had terrible hardships. I am very sorry you had to live through that. I must admit I have the desire to do things but my drive is missing right now as I struggle to make sense of what’s happening. Your post gave me hope. I will try to get outside more. I do find it hard to tolerate extreme cold and heat so tend to stay indoors. My favourite thing to do in nature is to feed the wild birds and rabbits. I feel I can make a difference in their lives in our cold climate. My favourite experience in nature is feeling a strong wind blow across my face. It’s magical and makes me very happy. Thanks so much for this post. I don’t feel so alone. It also gives me a lot of hope for a long happy future. Really. Xxoo

      • Lisa Smith on March 7, 2022 at 5:23 pm

        Dear Jamie, My goodness! As I read your comment, I was wondering if it was something I wrote and then forgot! Our stories are very similar. However, my breast cancer journey was in 2011. Being a trooper isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, is it? I’m in Oregon now, where the weather is mild enough that I can go outside comfortably year-round. I’d love to connect if you are interested. Seem like we have a lot in common! I’m a student in Anna’s academy. It’s a nice little place. Are you a student too? Maybe I’ll see you inside. I’m GiLi. (Lisa Smith)

  3. Ruth McGhie on February 8, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    Beautiful post!
    Nature is life, growth, seasons, and death, so yes we identify with it as humans. Life is hope, possibility and is so worth celebrating.
    I’ve set this months (feb) art challenge – To paint a ‘snow scene’ or something of nature in the snow. My challenge to you is to paint us a snowy something too!!! 😀❤️.
    Ruth McGhie

    • Joan on February 9, 2022 at 8:41 pm

      Your words of wisdom about nature and life itself ring so true. Thanks for your inspiration.

  4. Cheryl on February 8, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    Thank you for sharing. I hope you are able to put those sad times behind you and enjoy your wonderful life. I love the countryside, but unfortunately due to osteoarthritis, I am unable to walk far, so my days out are very special.

  5. Nancy Hage on February 8, 2022 at 3:30 pm

    This telling of your story is truly inspiring. It rings so true in every turn of its telling. Recently, I too have been going through some of the worst of times in my life…losing my husband to the wicked disease of dementia after 50 years of marriage. Luckily, I found you and your website school just at the beginning of his decline and I have hung onto what you teach like a warm blanket…like nature itself. What you have done for me is allowed me to have a life beyond caregiving and to really develop my own talents. I’m so happy to be improving in my painting skill, but most importantly, you’ve taught me to “look closely”. Most of my recreation over the years has been outdoors activity and I’ve always loved nature without really analyzing what a gift it was giving me through my enjoyment. Now, though, I can slow my observation down when I’m outdoors and really “see” things I was certainly missing in my earlier years. And then when I perchance capture a beautiful photo of one thing or another, painting it at home takes me to a whole other level of nature nourishment. There’s definitely a spiritual experience to it all. I can’t tell you enough how grateful I am for having “met” you online and learning from you in all you do. Thank you Anna.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:09 pm

      Thank you SO much for sharing your story. I feel so grateful to have been a part of helping you through what must be such a profoundly awful experience with losing your husband in this way. That you are able to ‘see’ so much more is so wonderful and really facilitates those precious ‘ahhh’ moments. x

  6. Lisa Taylor on February 8, 2022 at 3:31 pm

    Thanks for sharing your story and reminding us to get outside, even when it’s cold and snowy. Most of all, thanks for making art so accessible to those of us caught up in perfectionism. Even when I’m in a painting drought, I’m inspired by the stories and paintings from this community.

  7. Irene on February 8, 2022 at 3:32 pm

    Yes we see God in nature who gives us hope, love and joy in the promise of everlasting life.

    • Kathy Howard on February 8, 2022 at 4:01 pm

      Well said! Many people recognize a strong connection with nature without realizing that what it really amounts to is a connection to God. All creation comes from God. It is a wonderful feeling to connect with the beauty nature but add to that the amazement that God created nature for us to enjoy. We are God’s creation, also. (God has many promises for us, but one of them is NOT that life will be carefree and easy).

      • Beth Whitney on February 8, 2022 at 4:44 pm

        Beautifully stated! All of creation testifies of the glory of God and His invisible attributes: His power, grace, beauty, strength, love, endurance, and so much more are on display and accessible to us. It’s amazing to me how something as simple as a walk in a garden can completely transform my thinking and restore my spirit. Overwhelm becomes possibility almost instantly. That’s why I love painting nature so much. I think watercolor particularly seems to flow with nature perfectly. Anna, thank you for sharing this post. I’m certain there are many others who need to hear it today.

        • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:42 pm

          Thanks for your comment Beth 🙂

          • Karen L Owens on February 9, 2022 at 5:38 am

            Thankyou Anna for sharing your story, which is something i can relate to in many ways. It’s great that something so negative has been turned around into something so positive for you. Nature has such powerful healing, and has helped me with my journey through my mental health, but also with my art. Karen ❤️



      • Becky on February 8, 2022 at 5:03 pm

        I so agree! Nature is God’s handiwork. It declares His glory, His goodness, His brilliance and His power. His peace! It is meant to point us to Him…to reveal His character and care for us. It is a glimpse of who Jesus is…. all things were created by Him, and for Him and are held together through Him. NATURE CANNOT SAVE YOU on its own, but it can introduce us to the One who can. I pray that Jesus will continue you to use nature to bless your life. But even more so to draw you to Himself, the Creator,
        so that you may be blessed to experience His peace and joy and beauty eternally.

      • Gigi Hill on February 9, 2022 at 12:37 pm

        I agree totally Kathy Howard and also Beth Whitney.. The heavens declare God’s glory! He wants to wrap us in His love and comforts us with beauty. Thank you to Anna for being transparent about her story. Seeing beauty and having to search for it on purpose during this pandemic has been so crucial to me. When I first started painting with Anna I saw new colors outside and painting has been very helpful to me on the dark dreary isolated days we have all experienced the last couple of years.

    • Liam on February 8, 2022 at 5:13 pm

      Job 37:14 Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.

      What a blessing we receive daily should we choose to receive it from the Creator.

  8. Sally Haynes on February 8, 2022 at 3:34 pm

    I remember meeting you at Nature in Art, Glos. I told you I had ‘white/blank page syndrome’! You were so pretty and happy and a beautiful artist.
    Recently I joined your painting course; sadly my MS has become much worse and therefore I have not even started the course. But every morning I throw open the bedroom window to listen to the birds and look at the garden.
    I may not be able to do much but I can enjoy Nature. love Sally xx

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:04 pm

      Oh Sally, I’m sorry to hear you have MS and are dealing with that. Wishing you many ‘ahhh’ moments in nature.

  9. Carol Myers on February 8, 2022 at 3:37 pm

    What a powerful, vulnerable reflection. Your words resonated with me on a deep level. I want to explore your sources you used to uphold the connection we have with nature. The other source that has opened my eyes and is particularly close to home for you is Celtic spirituality.

    You paint with words as beautifully as watercolors. Thank you.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:03 pm

      Thank you Carol. I will look up Celtic spirituality -sounds interesting x

  10. Kevin Christie on February 8, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    Hi Anna,
    Thanks for sharing and really glad to hear you are doing ok after those horrible experiences. I’ve also been through the same and it was only whilst in recovery from major surgery two years ago, to remove a Sarcoma tumour that I decided to do some art. I’ve been drawing since and loving it. Unfortunately I still have a lot of problems with leg pain and can’t enjoy nature as much as I’d like (I’m a keen photographer too) but, when I do get a chance I really get a peacefulness and also an energy from the beauty of it all, especially along the Irish coast where I’m from.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:02 pm

      Thanks for your message Kevin, I’m so pleased you’ve found art!

  11. Sherry Webster on February 8, 2022 at 3:39 pm

    Thank you for sharing a difficult part of your life and some of the things that brought you to a much happier time. I know it was inspiring and heartfelt to me and I am sure it will help others. It was a particularly cold and gray day here on the upper Gulf of Mexico in the U.S. I believe January in the parts of our world where it is cold, rainy, snowy, and gray can be very challenging to our psyche. I appreciate your references about nature, art and authors. Again, thank you for helping in several different ways.

  12. Gan on February 8, 2022 at 3:40 pm

    Dear Anna,
    I can’t imagine why someone would be unkind to you. I spent my whole life as a doctor mending and trying to heal people. In my own personal difficult phase in life, recently my wife underwent cancer treatment for two years, hell on earth. Everything falls apart. I started painting and found your wonderful site. Then Corona turned up and I still have to seriously do your lessons. Love your mails and blogs.
    My heart will go on to painting!!

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:01 pm

      I’m so pleased you’re enjoying painting Gan – it can be so helpful through tough times. And I hope your wife has recovered now and you have much more time to enjoy nature and each other.

  13. Katherine Ford on February 8, 2022 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you for openly sharing hard life experiences. I have my studio table next to a south facing window where I have three bird feeders hanging. Each morning I am thankful for visiting birds and watching each taking different approaches to picking their seeds. It is my morning tea time and I feel blessed and ready for the day.

  14. Yvonne on February 8, 2022 at 3:40 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your journey. It takes a lot of strength to cope with both illness and emotional pressure. You have risen above them both to create a wonderful life for yourself and your new family. I applaud 👏 you from the bottom of my heart. That you were able to remain so creative through it all is more than amazing.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:00 pm

      Thank you for such a lovely comment Yvonne, you’re very kind.

  15. Jennifer Mitchell on February 8, 2022 at 3:41 pm

    Lovely and inspiring post touched me deeply, I have a similar history. Your journey has opened my eyes and my mind thank you so much for sharing

  16. Patricia Chapman on February 8, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    That was a beautiful read, i am sure most of us have experienced loneliness – although married, loneliness, although surround by people, the best feeling ever, is to take a lone walk in nature, just bee, or be. thank you very much.

  17. jason morgan on February 8, 2022 at 3:51 pm

    What a wonderful post Anna, so inspirational. Art combined with nature really does bring us joy.

  18. Susan Fordice on February 8, 2022 at 3:53 pm

    Beautiful. I knew this when I was young and lived in the country. I’ve forgotten with years and city and cement. Grateful for the reminder.

    • Kate Patrick on February 8, 2022 at 4:09 pm

      Thank you for sharing your story so honestly. So much of it is my own story including a former husband with addiction issues and cancer. The day I was diagnosed with breast cancer I came home and planted a little tree. I needed to do something life-affirming! During my recovery from breast surgery I worked in the garden, digging and planting. It was so therapeutic! It was a time of being connected with creation and soothed by the fresh air and sunshine. I was more aware of my surroundings as my body and spirit healed. Such a gift to be grateful in the present! I felt close to God. Later on I discovered botanical art and signed up for your courses. It has been yet another way to connect with the beauty around me. BTW, that little tree is 15 feet tall now and blooms sweetly every spring to remind me of my journey back to life.

      • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:56 pm

        That’s amazing Kate – what a beautiful story and how inspired of you to plant that tree!

  19. mj on February 8, 2022 at 4:02 pm

    So true! But when one must be in either a concrete community or desert environment house plants and flowers save the day! I think my experience in concrete and sand is why I sooooo love your work! If there is no tree to hug, Paint One!

  20. Stephen on February 8, 2022 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and your journey. So glad you came out the other side of that difficult period in your life and have loving people around you now. I totally connect with your experience of nature and art and how both have helped you through. I have been a keen gardener for many years and always find it helpful with my mental health as well as providing an artistic outlet. I also love walking in the countryside and again connecting with all the sensory experiences that provides. It’s an essential part of my day. And, now, thanks to your fabulous school, I have discovered art. I am new and not that confident but am loving the discovery and being able to bring both my love of nature and art together is a revelation. It really helps me to relax and lose myself for a few hours and to be able to create something at the end of the process is wonderful. So, thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience in such an open way for all to benefit from.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:58 pm

      I’m so pleased you’re enjoying painting Stephen – it will enhance your ability to appreciate nature I’m sure. 🙂

  21. CATHY A. VanLeit on February 8, 2022 at 4:08 pm

    I applaud your ability to be vulnerable enough to share such a painful story. I always had a similar first marriage but did not get the courage to leave for 29 years. I agree that nature gives life to my soul, but having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, the Creator and sustainer of such beauty brings me overwhelming joy! During my hikes and travel around the world, reminds me of how important my faith is and being in a community of faith. Painting is just one more way I can worship the creator!

    • Kate Patrick on February 8, 2022 at 4:11 pm

      Well said! The works of His hands declare the glory of His Name!

    • Liam on February 8, 2022 at 5:09 pm

      Job 37:14 Hearken unto this, O Job: stand still, and consider the wondrous works of God.

      What a blessing we receive daily…

      • Carol on February 8, 2022 at 8:28 pm

        Liam, I love this O Job, stand still…
        Carol

        • David Brady on February 9, 2022 at 11:51 am

          As the deer pants for the water my soul does to thee.
          I watched a deer in the woods quietly drink out of a brook and that psalm filled my head.

  22. Christina Barber on February 8, 2022 at 4:09 pm

    What an inspiring post. I agree with you on the connection with nature, but it doesn’t need to be lush forests. During a time when I too was going through a bad relationship, I used to go into the Arizonan deserts during springtime to paint. The temperature was refreshing and cacti were blooming. The sound of various birds added to the calming atmosphere.

    I escaped that nightmare relationship after ten years. That was back in 1999. In a few years, I was to meet a lovely Englishman. We married and settled in a little village in East Anglia where my husband was born and raised. Here, I’m able to enjoy lush fields of whatever farmers decide to grow each year along with centuries old oaks, hedgerows, and too many birds to mention.

    Better than any pills, in my opinion.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:57 pm

      Thanks for sharing your story Christina – and I’m so pleased you found such happiness.

  23. Mary Caton on February 8, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    Dear Anna I have known you for years and never knew all the trauma you have been through, you always seem so happy and carefree. You really inspired me to paint when I was struggling in 2014 I watch you all the time and learnt so much then decided to become a member of yours and learnt so much, I love all nature and understand the wonderful feeling it gives you 🥰🥰

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:55 pm

      Thank you Mary! I hope you’re well 🙂

  24. Lisa Connors on February 8, 2022 at 4:17 pm

    I’m so glad you found the courage to be true to your self with your relationships and art. Your thriving energy is now a source of inspiration for so many who benefit from your school and classes – myself included. I agree with everything you’ve said about the need for nature in our lives, because yes, we are nature too. This is something I want children to see with my picture books and a major reason why I wanted to learn to paint. Thank you.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:55 pm

      Thanks Lisa – and that’s great you’re creating children’s books! 🙂

  25. Tricia on February 8, 2022 at 4:21 pm

    I can completely relate to your failed marriage and that is actually when I discovered you and my love of watercolor painting. Going through my divorce was so painful, and painting allowed me to escape. However, I must confess, I longed to be like you – with what seemed the “perfect” life. So thank you for sharing this story, thank you for being “real” and thank you for all you’ve taught me both inside and outside the art studio. Outdoors, I now notice so many more details within the beauty of nature!

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:54 pm

      Thanks Tricia for leaving such a touching comment. Yes we can so easily think others’ lives are perfect. I think it’s really important to be honest. I’m so pleased you’re painting and that it has helped you through such a hard time. Wishing you lots of joy from nature going forwards 🙂

      • iona fisher on February 9, 2022 at 12:48 am

        Karen, im betting your sense of humour also sustains you. Thank-you for the smile.. All the best.

  26. Christine on February 8, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    Thank you Anna, for sharing your life experiences. This past two years, because of Covid, has been painful being separated so much from my children and grandchildren. Thankfully, we are seeing them again. .I have also been in a very dry painting period, but I started painting again yesterday! Today the tiny narcissus on my kitchen window sill started to bloom and brought a promise of spring. I so look forward to tending our allotment again very soon. It was what gave us life during lockdown and I shall be forever grateful for it.

  27. MJ Rosello on February 8, 2022 at 4:22 pm

    So inspiring words, thank you so much for sharing Anna. I am going through a process of reconnecting with my creativity. I being trying to do the courses of your online school but I struggle finding the time. I also live more or less in the country side, by the seashore in the south of Chile (South America), near but far enough from the city. The reconnection with nature has helped me in my loneliness and creativity. But still must continue to work on it. Reading your experience was really conforting in the sense of feeling that everything is possible and that it´s important to take that time, even if it´s 30 or 15 minutes a day, to stop an reconnect.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:48 pm

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post MJ and hope you’re able to find a little daily time for nature, and hopefully also some painting time 🙂

  28. Molly Sargent on February 8, 2022 at 4:33 pm

    I totally agree with everything you’ve said. My husband died last August. He was the love of my life. Its been difficult for me to go to work two days a week, (I’m semi retired) and show a strong facade to my clients and friends. But my husband and I started a cat and senior dog sanctuary 20 years ago and so these sweet dogs and cats keep me going. But the best is when I walk outside to feed the feral cats and hear the birds, see the trees and smell the fresh air. I am always surprised and delighted and promise to spend more time outside. Its where I feel the most alive. I also promise I will get my life and house in order so I can star my art projects again. But I never do. Maybe today I will keep my promise to myself. I have to ask, what happened to the puppy?

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:47 pm

      Hi Molly. I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. Your cat and dog sanctuary sounds amazing. Pets are wonderful. My pup made it to 12 years old but died in 2020 (that really was a shocker of a year wasn’t it!). I am so excited to get another dog but I need my children to be a little older before I can give it the attention I would want to. It will come. I hope you make some space to paint soon!

  29. Becky on February 8, 2022 at 4:35 pm

    I live in the country and have a grateful appreciation for the world around me. I take my pups out in the morning and talk with my Creator. It’s a great way to start the day.

  30. Karen on February 8, 2022 at 4:36 pm

    Snow is so ‘quiet’, can be very rejuvenating. First husbands are a challenge to be sure, but a learning experience. As is Cancer. Having had a cancer surgery 12/4/19, then 28 rounds of radiation in 2020 – gee, followed by Covid hitting the world – snow and painting and nature are such a joy. Your tutorials have been wonderful to work on, and I’m thankful for the outlines, as I can’t draw a lick, but so enjoy the painting part. I even gifted my sister with a subscription which she has continued..

    Wishing you continued health and happiness!

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:44 pm

      Thanks for your comment Karen and I do hope your health is now improved. I’m so pleased you’ve been enjoying painting!

  31. Kate Dubin on February 8, 2022 at 4:38 pm

    Dear Anna, thank you for opening your heart and sharing this deeply personal journey. You will have inspired so many to feel this human connection as well as connection to nature. Having volunteered at our local cancer resource center, I know how important it is to tell and hear each other’s stories.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:43 pm

      Thank you Kate – and thank you for your volunteer work – how important that is 🙂

  32. david west on February 8, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    Bravo, Anna ! Thank you for sharing your experience.
    Your World has changed markedly in a very positive way. This story had a very happy ending !

  33. Barb on February 8, 2022 at 4:48 pm

    Nature has always been a safe haven for me, from my early teen years and beyond. I didn’t marry until my late 30’s but was very fortunate to find my soul mate that feels the same way. We also, have a pup that literally kept us going to the woods during difficult times of family illness. My husband has always encouraged my love for photography as well. I have multi drives of phots I can’t wait to finally create in watercolor and put my dreams to reality. I told him when I retired, I was going to join you school and learn, he did make the comment, you can’t paint like that! Well, I am just starting, but I have turned him into a believer. All thanks to Anna’s clear tutorials, her belief that yes you can. This part of my journey is just starting but looking so forward to sharing my vision of nature in the future!

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks Barb for your lovely comment! I am so pleased you’re learning how to capture the beauty of nature for yourself now 🙂

  34. marika roth on February 8, 2022 at 4:53 pm

    Thank you for sharing these personal thoughts. The writing is heartfelt and beautiful. Yes, nature is our first healer. Hope that our earth will continue to bless us with its natural gifts.

  35. Wendy Pahl on February 8, 2022 at 4:54 pm

    Dear Anna

    Thank you for such an honest and beautiful message of how your reconnection with nature and painting helped you to work through a very difficult time in your life, and so happy to hear you are now in much better times, with a loving husband and two adorable young children, I love your beautiful paintings and am inspired by them.

  36. Tonette Godshalk on February 8, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    Thank you for the sharing your story. This past year I have been dealing with Lupus which stopped me from painting for a time.
    I live in the states we have wonderful nature all around me because of your comments I will be looking around more often. Thank you1

  37. Liam on February 8, 2022 at 5:00 pm

    Bravo for you and you “new” and improved family. I am in a somewhat familiar situation, except I a man. I too have cancer, 2nd go-round with lymphoma. I a beautiful daughter, 19, who is fully disabled. She never fails to bring warmth to my heart. When I work with her, play & yes paint with her (my hand over her hand) and or simply hold her hand my whole heart if full of joy. Finding the joy and peace from our surroundings is extremely important for our well being. I am happy you have reconnected with that joy in your life. Blessings.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:41 pm

      This is beautiful, thank you Liam. Your love for your daughter sounds so lovely. I hope you make a good recovery and that you can also have plenty of peaceful moments from nature.

  38. Suzanne on February 8, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    Hello Anna. Thank you for sharing.
    Our daughter 28 was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In the end she had 2 kinds of cancer. Soon we do the iodine. She still lives at home. She also has a bipolar disease. She has endured much. I’ve sent her copies of a few of ur pages to look at.

    We used to live in the country too. I long for it. Painting helps me immensely. In fact I like to paint things of that country home. I know what you mean about staring at creation. I never realized who much I did it before until I moved. We have a small bit of nature an abandoned gold course. So pleased we at least have that.

    I keep trying to get her to paint. Not yet. Some day. Thank you for sharing.
    Good job

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:38 pm

      Sorry to hear your daughter, and you, are going through this Suzanne. Wishing you both some ‘ahhh’ moments this week and a successful treatment that’s over soon.

  39. Jackie Radovich on February 8, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you Anna for sharing your story and for your inspiring words for all of us needing a little perspective. and positive insight. You are a truly lovely person Anna and please continue to inspire.

  40. Michelle on February 8, 2022 at 5:20 pm

    Being inspired by Gods creation is indeed comforting. He made this beautiful earth with all its beauty, seasons, growing things and even the challenges of weather and natural disasters like forest fires and earthquakes to refresh the land. (Can you tell I live in California?) there is beauty in all creation and the purpose of it is indeed to encourage and bless us as we walk upon this earth. Thank you for sharing your art and skill with us. I have learned a great deal from you. I am thankful you are well and thriving!

  41. Carey Ide on February 8, 2022 at 5:25 pm

    You are so brave and I am so proud of you! Love your painting!

  42. Karen Morrissey on February 8, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    Bless you for sharing a very vulnerable, difficult time. So glad your life was turned around and you are enjoying your life. As a biologist I always find nature very healing and uplifting during difficult times but also during happy times too.
    Having just had cataracts done, I’ve so enjoyed re-connecting with nature again. Reliving the beauty and variety of colours and so looking to starting back with the watercolour tutorials again. Haven’t been able to do much/any recently because of discrepancy between my eyes.. l enjoy your drawings because of my past botanical/zoological drawings.

  43. Wendy Dudley-Evans on February 8, 2022 at 5:27 pm

    Hi Anna, I know exactly how scary it is hearing the C word. I had a large lump removed a few years ago which started on my windpipe and then decided to attach to my thyroid. It had to go of course. Then we had covid raise its ugly head and I was at home alone as hubby was working away for 3.5 years in Gloucestershire. Hard for me as we drifted apart and I was ready to walk. But, he worked on moving back home, left his job there and returned here. It’s still tricky at times but we don’t want to throw 40 years of marriage away. I did an online course on Art Therapy which was a godsend for me. It helped me understand why I felt the way I did. Then eventually I saw some of your work and moved on with my artwork. I’m a Nail Technician and Beauty therapist and paint in my spare time. My art has certainly improved considerably since I joined your school and I can only thank you for that. But I think what I’m trying to say is, that sometimes we need hurdles to toughen us up, and to make us move in the right direction or we will just put and lose the battle. Well done you for getting through your battle.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:34 pm

      Sounds like making art is really helping you Wendy through a challenging time. Wishing you many ‘ahhhh’ moments!

  44. monica on February 8, 2022 at 5:35 pm

    I appreciate your words and the fact you speak about your personal difficulties, as normally people thinks that some things cannot happen to famous one.
    I simply have your tought about nature.

  45. Stefani on February 8, 2022 at 5:42 pm

    I too must regularly be out in nature for my ( relative ) sanity. I am wondering though, who took the pictures of your walk ?

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:33 pm

      Yes, that was my ex husband. He did have a good eye for composition!

  46. Monica Judith Anne Jones on February 8, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Monica
    I have native bush. Nature brings clarity, clearing and focusing on the good. Grounding and bringing me comfort and peace

  47. Kristy leistner on February 8, 2022 at 5:46 pm

    I am so grateful for you. I had no idea everything that you have gone through. We all have our struggles, and sometimes gets so wrapped up in our own lives that we think others are doing just fine. I love learning how to watercolor paint from you. I started when Covid hit and have not been able to attend a formal painting class. So your instruction has brought me to where I am today. Thank you so much!

  48. Jakki on February 8, 2022 at 5:47 pm

    Thank you for sharing this story and I am so glad that you are well and in a very happy relationship now.
    You are totally right about the restorative feelings that being outdoors can instil…..and also how one can lose oneself in painting.
    Thank you for your thoughts.

  49. Faith Reynolds on February 8, 2022 at 5:51 pm

    I had no idea you had been thru such a difficult time. God bless you for being renewed through His magnificent creation. Every time I get your newsletter or go to your site I am inspired by your exceptional gift of art. Thank you for sharing your life and art with us.

  50. Ms jackie Mount on February 8, 2022 at 6:00 pm

    You write as beautiful as you paint I also was in an abusive marriage I got away after 25 years I left everything I knew I had never painted anything but now I paint a lot thanks to you stay strong lady you got this

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:31 pm

      Well done for getting out Jackie and thanks for sharing.

  51. Ruth Fulton on February 8, 2022 at 6:04 pm

    Oh Anna you are so brave for sharing this with us. Such a tough time you had. I wished i was near to hug you in that photo in the back yard. You have done incredibly well since and with two beautiful children too and a loving husband. I went thro a cancer diagnosis of lymphoma too almost 5 years ago n from that i took to art which i never had rekindled from my school days and thats a long time ago. I also really appreciated the great outdoors n just loved to get out n value each day as a gift. I tried to do something to inspire myself and others. I havent got treatment yet but have been put on watch n wait. This in itself is stressful so my art definitely inspires me. Thku for your brilliant tutorials n seeing your happy face. I am a bit behind but hanging in there. Thku.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:31 pm

      Thanks Ruth – I am sure your time outside as well as your painting will be helping to keep you healthy 🙂

  52. Kim on February 8, 2022 at 6:05 pm

    Hi Anna, Thank you for sharing a piece of your story so openly. The quote you included by Andy Goldsworthy really resonates with me, “We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost connection to nature, we’ve lost connection to ourselves”. I realize that I have lost connection with myself and will begin to remedy that today by taking a walk with my dog!

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:30 pm

      Wonderful Kim, I am so pleased the post had that affect on you.

  53. Jan Mylod on February 8, 2022 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Anna, so sorry you have had to go through so much in your early years but so glad you eventually found happiness with your new husband and family. Thankyou for your inspiring blog. I too love the countryside, somehow it brings us alive and we are amazed at the changes nature makes in colour and movement through the year. I enjoy seeing your lovely paintings.
    Best Wishes.

  54. Lesley on February 8, 2022 at 6:19 pm

    Dear Anna, I’ve had a simular experience but my first husband was a drunk and druggy i was so nieve i hadn’t seen the signs when i married him, needless to say it didn’t last long eighteen months and with a new born child i left and got myself a council property for a while, soon after i found the love of my life he’s been absolutly brilliant i wouldn’t change him for the world.
    Back in 2008 i lost my only son who took his own life all through money worries i was and still deverstated as to what has happened, some thing i now have to live with.
    So yes i love being outside with the world we walk a lot, thank goodness i found you i really love doing all the paintings i just get lost in doing it .
    Thank you so much for sharing your life with us.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:29 pm

      I’m so glad you are enjoying painting Lesley and so sorry to hear about your son – that must be incredibly painful x

  55. Pat Yagmin on February 8, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    Yessss!! Exactly!! What a difference in physical and emotional health being out in nature provides! We feel the energy of the earth and the universe. We can breathe it in, we can soak that energy into our being!! I have done many art pieces by taking photos in the park and putting them into my art. We are part of nature.
    I have been involved in our local nature center for over 20 years, serving as President of the Friends who help support it. I paint animals on rocks because I love animals. Makes me feel purposeful and happy.
    I had a bad marriage of 42 years in which I became his caregiver. Was not in a happy place. That’s all in the past, but drinking and drugs and mental abuse were major. Now I live in peace in an apartment with my partner. I mostly miss gardening but physically can’t do that anymore. I have dreams of it!
    I go out to nature almost daily except if it is icy. I have been diagnosed with blood cancer that is in my bones. I am not pleased at all, being in pain and tired. I am glad you were able to conquer yours! There is no cure for mine, only remission. When I pass, I will have my ashes scattered in nature to blend with the elements and spiritual world. I am comforted to know I will be in a good place.
    For now, I continue to walk about, take pictures, paint, and just bE!! My journal reflects nature mostly.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you for your message Pat. Wishing you lots of strength and many ‘ahhhh moments’ in nature 🙂

  56. Jan Kitchen on February 8, 2022 at 6:43 pm

    So brave to speak out. I too was in a toxic relationship and escaping into the natural environment helped loads.
    More recently caring for my second husband through his terminal illness, I found great respite spending time in the garden and painting, and when the stress of the situation got too much a walk to recharge the batteries on the moors so helped.
    Couldn’t agree more with every hint you have said.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:27 pm

      Thanks for sharing Jan, wishing you all the best and lots of ‘ahhhh’ moments.

  57. Barbara Bradley on February 8, 2022 at 7:15 pm

    Your honesty and transparency are truly inspiring, as is your art. I know exactly what you mean about being drawn to nature. I will often just pause to look out my window and take a deep breath. Sometimes, through the eyes of a child we can more fully appreciate what they see. My little 6 month old great-grandson loves to look out the window or sit on my back porch with me. He gazes with wonder at the trees and the leaves that blow in the wind. I can’t wait to take him outside when the weather warms up, go for a stroll or teach him how to swing. Loved your article and adore you and your work.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:16 pm

      Thank you, wishing you lots of fun with your great-grandson.

  58. Barbara Hinds on February 8, 2022 at 7:34 pm

    Anna- it’s not nature that’s saved me- it’s you! After a very hard time my daughter subscribed me to your art school- and you very quickly- with your friendly, encouraging and kind posts and lessons- became my ‘safe place’ and comfort zone. You’ll never know how much you helped me- thank you SO much.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:15 pm

      Oh Barbara, I’m so pleased to hear you are enjoying it 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

  59. Kim Gilman on February 8, 2022 at 7:43 pm

    Yes, nature is my lifeline. I’m a mental health therapist by day (struggling artist by night!) and I find that nature makes me a more creative therapist. I’m fortunate that my town has a number of walking trails through the woods. I make a point to get out there every weekend. It resets me and gives me that ‘ahhhh’ moment. I’ve been trying to learn watercolor painting and the pictures I take of nature have been my springboard for painting and de-stressing.. Watercolors seem to give me a piece of that ‘ahhh’ moment as well!

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:14 pm

      So pleased to hear you’re enjoying painting Kim. Thanks for sharing!

  60. Sandi Schaab on February 8, 2022 at 7:56 pm

    Yes, God’s creation is so healing. I have lived on the same street my whole life (64 yrs) and the joy of the woods and vegetation around me are very comforting. My favorite is springtime, watching everything coming back to life. Thank you for the inspiration and honesty.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:14 pm

      Oh yes Spring is the best… and on it’s way 🙂

  61. Nancy Deye on February 8, 2022 at 8:09 pm

    Your post resonated with me. I could relate to your “saddest of times” when I too was in an abusive relationship with my husband in my 20s. Luckily, I lived close to Knole House in Sevenoaks, Kent, then where Henry XIII spent his summers. A huge estate with a breathtaking countryside filled with ancient deer herds. I would spend hours connecting with the beauty I saw there. Being that it was so drenched in history made its meaning more powerful. Every visit left me with a sense of renewed spirit that calmed my soul but also left a little emptiness. How I wished I could paint or draw just some of it to keep with me…and guide me through.
    I just turned 70. Through the years, I’ve always been eager to learn if I have some painting ability and feel I cannot let it go longer. Last month, I signed on to your classes and I’m taking baby-steps with each stepped tutorial. They guide me now in growing as a Painter and leave me with a feeling of peace. I am happy with all my attempts and look forward to my daily painting times with you by my side. The stars are aligned now and I am grateful. Thank you, Anna, for your sharing and your gifts to us.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 8:13 pm

      Thank you for your lovely comment Nancy – I am thrilled that you are now painting and able to start capturing some of the beauty you’ve enjoyed.

  62. Donna Elftmann on February 8, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    Nature has always been a soul-tonic for me. Early in the Pandemic lockdown, I had to get outside to experience the cycle of nature – the peeper frogs croaking so loudly in a local pond, knowing nothing about distancing and a pandemic making us isolate. The flowers kept growing and delighting me. I could enjoy neighbors dogs out for a walk with the owner.. I love being on Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota. The lake and its various moods and seasons, speaks to me of God, who is so much bigger than me.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:18 pm

      It sounds beautiful where you are Donna, thanks for leaving such an evocative comment. x

  63. carol slater on February 8, 2022 at 8:23 pm

    Hello to you Anna
    You have taken a path that shows healing and looking after a part of yourself, that shows great determination and love for yourself. Kudos to you!
    Thank you for your honesty..it has encouraged me to be more caring of myself and I am enjoying the time by the beach and outside.
    Take care in all things.
    Carol

  64. Maureen on February 8, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    Anna,
    I’m so glad you came through your ‘trials’. I’ve been through 2 divorces and have learned from both experiences. I used to walk a path around a local reservoir and just recite some prayers for strength and peace within all our souls. I’m not a terribly religious person, but I found that the exercise and nature surrounding me gave me the calm reassurance that everything happens for a reason. And I firmly believe that everything that goes around, comes around. Just believe in yourself, no matter what anyone else says or does. Keep up the good work and remember we are all there for you too.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:17 pm

      Thanks for your lovely comment Maureen.

  65. carol slater on February 8, 2022 at 8:25 pm

    Hello to you Anna
    You have taken a path that shows healing and looking after a part of yourself, that shows great determination and love for yourself. Kudos to you!
    Thank you for your thoughts.. theyt has encouraged me to be more caring of myself and I am enjoying the time by the beach and outside.
    Take care in all things.
    Carol

  66. Joanne Bartkus on February 8, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    I too was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 14 years ago. However, I was fortunate to have a kind and supportive husband. Still, it was a stressful time due to the diagnosis, taking on a new job, and moving into a new home. Long walks and an adorable new puppy got me through that time. That dog and nature walks at our cabin in the woods, and taking up art as a hobby, got me through the isolation of the pandemic lockdowns. Sadly, I had to say goodbye to that dog a month ago, but it is once again photographing nature and drawing that helps ease the heartache of that loss.

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:16 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience too – at that same time! My pup made it to 12 years old but passed away in the summer of 2020. It’s so hard to say goodbye to them, but as you say, nature helps us.

  67. Maria on February 8, 2022 at 8:43 pm

    Dear Anna, thank you for sharing. I have moved to Italy but returned to the UK for a short period and found that everythink is automated, no real people to talk to. Sharing your experience shows you are a real person, with feelings and courage. I left the UK as I could not cope anymore with with all health, family and work issues. I got a nice place by the lake in Umbria surraunded by very old olive trees and pines. I have created a nice english garden that gives me so much pleasure and have lots roses. Being out there and finding my self is been good. I would like to start painting again and soon I will take it up again. Nature is the best healer. During C-19 a little lost dog found me. He was only months old, born in Romenia. Now we inseparable and travels with me everywhere. He is a super star and gets me out when depression kicks in. It is difficult to get over our past and being back in the UK is a trip down to memory lane. The past cannot be changed but can make us better people. So thank you, reading your story brought tears in my eyes as I could relate to it. Soon I will be one of your students. Take care. Maria

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:14 pm

      I hope you’re able to find a few ‘ahhhh’ moments here in the UK Maria. Your doggy companion and your place in Italy sound so lovely.

  68. Lesley Bridges on February 8, 2022 at 8:59 pm

    Well, now I love your course even more than I already did, Anna. I have had the worst possible year and feel so uplifted that you have risen above your challenges through nature. I recently lost both of my wonderful parents and my lovely sister. I have a wonderful husband and grandchildren, but have several other family members who struggle with mental illness and substance abuse. Taking your course has lifted me up out of despair. I just bought a digital camera today and can’t wait to spend all summer photographing flowers and all winter painting them with your guidance. I feel your course is saving me in the way that you were saved by nature. Thank you SO very much for sharing your touching and inspiring story, Anna!!!!

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:12 pm

      I couldn’t be more delighted to be helping you to connect with nature/yourself through such hard times Lesley. Thank you for sharing. xx

  69. Renato Marandino on February 8, 2022 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Anna! Thank you for sharing, it’s a beautiful post. I can only imagine what you went through. Receiving such a diagnosis in the middle of a crisis must have been very hard. I’m happy you are past all of that and having a happy and productive life with your family.. Nature is indeed a wonderful medicine. I imagine how living in a country with a snowy winter must be, the waiting for spring and the first shoots.. here it is always green, no snow or fall, but even so, it’s marvelous! Thank you again!

    • Anna Mason on February 8, 2022 at 9:11 pm

      Thank you Renato – you have been such an inspiration to our community – I’m so grateful that you enjoy capturing the beauty of nature so much!

  70. Patricia Lynne Emery on February 8, 2022 at 9:54 pm

    I love hearing how you learned to thrive in the midst of heartache Anna, and appreciate your willingness to share. Your art is beautiful. I aspire to accomplish even a smidgen of the success you have achieved. I believe that we are made in the image of God, the supreme Creator. I believe that He has placed His desire to create within us because He loves doing it and knows how helpful it will be for us to do the same.. So whether it be a beautiful painting, a colorful garden, a bit of music, or a fabulous plate of food, it’s what we were made to do. . And it makes my heart glad.

  71. Carrol on February 8, 2022 at 9:58 pm

    Hello Anna I cried when I read your post I went through a similar experience almost 20 years ago and it brought it all back It was hard and it took 3 years of treatment for my thyroid to stabilise, during that time being outside sitting and listening to nature made me realise life is precious but it also gave me the strength to focus on the future. Painting with you came later once I had retired from teaching but those months mostly spent in the garden observing even the smallest details has helped me to recreate some of your beautiful tutorials and paintings. Sharing even difficult times gives inspiration to others. Thank you for sharing yours.

  72. Don on February 8, 2022 at 10:52 pm

    Nice to see someone appreciates the writings of Charles Dickens, a favorite of mine. Nature indeed is the healer in some many ways. I try to spend time outdoors each and every day, often carrying a camera. This morning, I came across 10 whitetail deer in a park in Calgary, Alberta, along with the many species of birds pursue. All provide the foundation not only for wellness but also subjects for art.

  73. Gary Hill on February 8, 2022 at 10:59 pm

    Hi Anna, thank you so much for sharing your story. I have been going through a rough patch for the last three years dealing with cancer and other health issues. These things have had a negative effect on my attitude often with me feeling sorry for myself. Reading your blog has given me inspiration to appreciate what I have and the people and things around me. I believe that nature is a great healer and a great inspiration for art. Thanks once again for sharing.

  74. Amanda Walker-Burrows on February 8, 2022 at 11:16 pm

    When I was trapped in an unhappy marriage I remember one night sitting on the concrete path in my garden, looking up at the stars and asking them to help me, I felt so alone except for the stars. Like you, I found peace being out with my dog, spending hours at the beach, he’d paddle as I walked along the coastline listening to the waves and watching the sparkles created by the sun on the water. Nature and the sounds it creates give me a sense of peace. It was counselling that I needed to discuss the pain caused by my marriage and it’s breakdown that brought me back to painting! The counsellor asked me what I liked to do before I became a wife and mother, it took a while to answer this question but then I answered “well I used to like art” as fate would have it the centre where I attended counselling had a weekly watercolour class. So I bought some paints, brushes and paper at WHSmith and went along for a few weeks (then covid hit and the classes stopped). For a while I would read all I could and watch YouTube videos on Watercolour painting, then I found Anna’s poppy tutorial, which led me to the website. I enjoyed painting for a while, my biggest fans are my parents and husband. But as people began to comment on my paintings I began to feel the enjoyment fade away and pressure to create ‘perfect paintings like Anna’s’. Perhaps I need to take my dogs for a walk and reconnect with nature

  75. Diane Constantine on February 9, 2022 at 12:15 am

    I have always loved nature. Even as a young girl I would walk to a tiny forested glen and sit quietly and refresh or unload or soak in there. Now as a 74 year old, I crave a walk outside every day to take pictures I save as reference photos.

    Just before Covid hit I joined your school. I painted every day. I craved those times with lovely nature pictures and my paint set. I lived in a very tightly closed nation with very few face to face visits with people for a year and a half. My first hug came when I touched down in America and my friend met me at the airport with open arms!

    I do not believe I could have stayed there so long without my botanical watercolor painting. The depression and fear and loneliness would have swallowed me up.

    Thank you for sharing your story, Anna! You have blessed us so much by teaching us to paint nature, up close and personal!

  76. Cathy Law Vick on February 9, 2022 at 12:24 am

    Anna,
    Your story is touching. Life throws us curves when we least expect it. Nature is truly amazing. Everyone should look into “earthing” or “grounding”. Bare feet on the natural ground (dirt, grass, sand) has healing benefits. Studies show that grounding for 30 minutes per day can decrease chronic pain and therefore decrease the use of pain medication. I have rheumatoid arthritis and it has been amazing. For those people who live in cold and snowy climates, there are grounding mats that you can use inside. Thank you for being such an inspiring teacher. Hugs, Cathy

  77. Kari Waltz on February 9, 2022 at 12:51 am

    Anna,
    Thank you sharing this this touching story of the powerful effects nature has had on you. Art is my therapeutic escape that brings me peace, and nature is my muse. I carry a small watercolor journaling kit with me everywhere and like to stop and make an entry to remember the moment. I work small, so it’s lightweight. When my husband and I hike in the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee, it’s so healing to just stand and breathe in the beauty. It’s especially rewarding when we have completed a difficult climb and I’m able to stop a paint a small entry. I feel so blessed to combine two things I absolutely LOVE. I’m inspired by God’s creation, and I’m nurtured when a Pause and listen to His Voice.
    Thank you for your inspiration and how you teach others.
    May God bless you and your family,
    Sincerely,
    Kari

  78. iona on February 9, 2022 at 1:12 am

    Thankyou for sharing your difficult journey with us, Anna. I’m sure it’s not what most of us would have envisioned. A good reminder that we all have a story.

    I too am a great believer in the restorative effects of the great outdoors whether its paddling on
    oceans & lakes, walking in forests, mountains and deserts or seeing the minutiae in plants and animals. I love how viewing something with a mind to trying to capture something of it in a painting totally changed the way I see thing with a whole new clarity. Its like putting on reading glasses!

    Thankyou for for all do..

  79. Georgie on February 9, 2022 at 1:51 am

    I LOVE LOVE LOVED your blog…so many things I could identify with, and similar circumstances. my art was not encouraged and just trying to be here now…nature has always been a part of me and my life thankfully…look forward to seeing and hearing more from you…

  80. M Cristina Mauceri on February 9, 2022 at 3:34 am

    Thank you Anna, I totally agree with you. In these years of pandemic my daily walk in a beautiful Centennial Park in Sydney was and still is a great pleasure. And I also discovered t Shinrin-Yoku: The Art and Science of Forest Bathing by Dr Qing L am inspiring book. For me Nature are also the dogs and the persons I meet walking. A smile for the persons, a caress for the dogs and the trunks of the trees.

    Cristina

  81. Karen on February 9, 2022 at 3:37 am

    Thank you for your transparency. I’ve recently had to deal with my own “bad behavior ” issues with my own father. Just last week I wrote the hardest letter of my life ( I’ve actually been writing it for years in my head). Sometimes you feel so alone until you hear others story. So happy that you connected with yourself through nature! Beautiful story. Thank you.

  82. Marina Potocean on February 9, 2022 at 4:09 am

    Thank you for sharing! I also have got the same bed days, for all reasons ( healthy, incomeing moneys, mariage and moore), but sill enjoy to some work with colours and paper, or in my little garden, with my flowers and, of course, my big cats familly.
    wish you all the best. Somehow, your messages encourages me for live…

  83. Annie on February 9, 2022 at 4:18 am

    Hi Anna
    Thankyou for posting your experiences of the past and how you faced it. You really have undergone a big trauma in your life but you definitely faced it gracefully with your God given talents. Your life is not a full stop . but a coma, a long life to live. God is using you to to be a blessing to many by devoting your talents and precious time selflessly to people like me. Your experiences is an inspiration to many
    Mother Nature always connects and soothes us when we are depressed and disappointed . God bless you dear and as a community of Anna’s group let us stay together with Nature and enjoy painting. Stay safe stay blessed Anna

  84. MARY SINCLAIR on February 9, 2022 at 8:44 am

    MARY SINCLAIR
    Dear Anna, Thank you for sharing your story, you are truly an amazing and inspirational young women. That has fought back and won. I recently went through a very low patch and found walking in nature a super healer. I live out in the countryside and my walk the other day took me to a place carpeted in snowdrops. I stood in awe at the wonder of nature and soaked up this amazing sight. It really lifted my spirits. My garden is also my sanctuary and I amaze how everything is coming to life after its winter sleep. I also want to thank you, my painting has a real calming effect on me. I turn on one of your tutorials and it’s like welcoming a lovely kind friend into my home and I can immerse myself into painting. Thank you so much you have brought kindness and pleasure to hundreds of people. Keep up your fantastic work. Thank you to YOU and FAMILY and ALL YOUR TEAM for being such an inspiration. Lots of love and BIG HUGS Mary XXXX😀😀😀

  85. Shanna Kok on February 9, 2022 at 8:45 am

    Hello Anna, thanks for sharing your stories! I admire your courage and your ability to stand up after all that has happened!

    My youngest daughter is also a cancer survivor who had leukemia when she was seven years old and went through bone marrow transplant when she was ten, and that was eighteen years ago!

    I thank God for giving her a second chance. However, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer four years ago while studying in Monash University, Melbourne. She went through two surgeries and two RAI treatments since then, and she will be undergoing another RAI treatment this month.

    I was very lost and miserable when she had her second surgery, because I was not able to fly over and be with her due to Covid. That’s when I saw your free pear lesson online and signed up later as a school member since then. I must thank you for all your tutorials as I feel peaceful and very therapeutic whenever I paint. Painting has helped me to overcome the anxiety and helplessness I felt during my girl’s surgery!

    I pray my daughter will fully recover after her coming treatment and be strong like you!

    Thank you Anna!

  86. Mur Warren on February 9, 2022 at 1:20 pm

    Anna, your story struck a chord with many of your followers including me. I too went through a personal crisis…battle with cancer, the loss of my husband and my daughter’s addiction. It was my interest in art that got me through this dark time. I will always credit you and your online school as one of my saving Graces. Thank you for sharing your story. It makes me realize we are never alone.

  87. Kate fletcher on February 9, 2022 at 2:53 pm

    Your course in watercolour (I joined in spring 2014) helped me though a long time of psychotherapy during which I lost my job, and decided to paint full time.

    I think, as well as the subjects being natural, and reminding us of nature, it’s about acknowledging reality properly.

    When I’ve hdd a whole morning painting or drawing, from reality or a photograph, my senses are so sharpened, I can see every leaf on the tree, and the colours are stunning, even on a dull day..

    My psychotherapist seemed to think it was through connecting with reality by painting it realistically that I was then able more easily to acknowledge that I was in reality the victim of an abusive relationship, and had nothing to be ashamed of.

    So for me, the art and my mental recovery fed off each other, and both benefitted.

    Thanks for the chance to learn to.paint in this realistic style!

  88. Anna Gatling on February 9, 2022 at 4:16 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Thank you for sharing you feeling about ending your marriage as I can relate some of the thoughts you had. For myself, I had those questions but a quiet voice countered all my fears, so I walked.

    Nature is God’s gift to us and it’s so precious. I have found myself totally speechless to the point of tears to see such love and also to feel the love. I knew how much I am love in nature and to be one with our creator.

    Thank you for all you do.

  89. Sally Winning on February 9, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Anna
    Your your paintings and comments are such an inspiration. I’m a mega fan of art and nature but what saved me from the hardships of this life was discovering the author of nature the One who made creation I became a Christian 30 odd years ago an d He heals the broken hearted and knows every hair on our heads. When I look at nature I’m looking at God and His nature. And He and nature are truly wonderful.BUT if I were to gain the whole of nature but lose my soul!!! God first I wish more people would give praise and thanks to the CREATOR of nature. That’s what and who, saved me. you can catch me on Google salwinart. You have truly inspired me I hope you take this as it is meant with love
    God bless you Anna you’re rock in.

  90. Dee Roe on February 9, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    Hi Anna,
    Thank you so much for being who you really are and sharing it with us. I know how important nature is to my life. But today I noticed something new reading your blog. I had that same feeling I get in nature when I read your words sharing your life with us. Maybe just being real with each other heals that terrible loneliness too? I felt healed today by your words.

  91. Ann Henshaw on February 9, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    Thank you Anna for sharing your story, which you turned around into a beautiful fulfilling life in every way. Bravo! It’s not easy like you, I went through a divorce which was abusive & stayed for my children’s sake – not an abusive father. I worried about the stigma divorce carried in 1970. In the end I had to leave with my children for the sake of my sanity, after10yrs. However, had to get on with it with two very young children. Having just lost my Dad to Cancer, Mum kindly put us up until I could find accommodation.Life was unbelievably hard but I had a supportive family & friends. Eventually finding accommodation, & par-time work school hrs, life was sweet with the children happy & settled in school & kindergarten. Having been brought up in the country & now living in town. I used to take my children to the parks & the beach. They had their own gardens & I had mine. Fast forward: my children have very successful careers & made happy marriages & excellent parents. I trained in Business Management & worked most of my life in the care field with all age groups. My children, family, friends & work helped me enormously to rebuild my confidence & self worth.. Later marring my wonder husband & enjoyed 381/2 yrs of happiness. Painting for 28yrs in watercolour gave me another – Happy place too. My husband passed two yrs ago – such happy memories for us both & our families. I found you almost four yrs ago & couldn’t be happier in your school & your amazing teaching. which helped my healing process during my mourning & lockdown which coincided. Thankfully, like you I made a new life too Anna. Thank you for all you do – you are inspirational…. x

  92. Joan on February 9, 2022 at 9:05 pm

    Anna,
    You were brave to share this personal story about such painful times in your young life. Your thoughts and feelings about nature ring so true with me. I’ve found it to be the one constant in this crazy life. Through sickness, deaths of my child, my parents, and several best friends nature has had a healing power. It’s the one thing we can depend on, besides change. Your post was uplifting and inspiring. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post.

  93. Mary on February 9, 2022 at 9:45 pm

    Your story is a wonderful testament to the beauty in nature Anna. I was born in inner London and have never had a garden. I was 9 years old when I visited my sister and her family who had moved to Cumberland to be near my brother-in-law’s work. I thought I was on another planet. They lived opposite a field! I got to watch a calf being born and local children came and knocked for me and took me over the fields and along the rivers to play. I stayed through my summer holidays and loved every moment of being outside and all I saw. My poor brother-in law had to come and find me to get me in for dinner. What a brat I was! But honestly I was lost in it all. I haven’t painted in watercolour since I was a child but I wanted to get back into it. My first attempt was pretty poor. I just couldn’t control the paint. I looked around for someone to learn from and saw your YouTube videos. I was fascinated by your beautiful, fresh paintings and you seemed to have so much control over the paint (and water). I wanted that. So I joined your school and have been studying and copying what you do, as best as I can. I have learned so much and have been pleased with the results I’m getting. However, I have got far more from your tutorials than I expected. I came here to re-connect with my love of art and find myself falling back in love with nature too. What a bonus! Thank you.

  94. anita nutbeen on February 10, 2022 at 8:40 am

    Thank you for sharing your story Anna. It’s such a deeply emotional one and you’re such a strong and amazingly talented person, you’ve given me hope! I haven’t painted for a while & I haven’t been out for almost 2 years, apart from hospital appointments! I have disabilities and not attempting to go out over this time has made my walking so bad that I won’t even try, to do it. Then my husband was diagnosed with cancer and I’ve been in a downward spiral.
    I want to walk properly, I want to get out in nature, I want to paint again! You’ve given me hope Anna❣️ I’m going to get back on it! I need to desperately. Today, ( once my shopping has arrived) I’m going to do it! I’m going out! I’m also going to get my art room set up again. I’ll get my life back on track, starting with some nature walks.
    Thank you Anna xx

  95. Alexandra on February 10, 2022 at 10:06 am

    Gosh, thank you so much for both opening up and being so vulnerable here and talking about how art and nature together help our mental health! I really needed to read that

  96. Manali Mehta on February 10, 2022 at 2:11 pm

    Dear Anna,
    Thank you for sharing your story. Very inspiring! It makes us believe that there’s light at the end of the tunnel. You are very strong and resilient.
    I, too, feel the same connection with nature. I wouldn’t have survived the loneliness in my life otherwise.

    I’ve been through a lot of emotional trauma from being bullied in school, feeling betrayed by friends and family, not being able to pursue my passion and my own inability to manage my emotions and to let go. I started getting increasingly aloof. I lacked the necessary social skills and found it hard to make new friends or find a partner.
    At one point, this sense of loneliness had become so unbearable that I desperately wanted to fill that void. I had literally lost my mind!!!
    But I had to gather myself and learn to be responsible for my own happiness.
    I took up gardening. As I tended to my garden and saw it blooming, I felt a part of me had started healing. Birds have been dear to me and so I started feeding them. Soon I attracted flocks of sparrows and parrots to my feeders. Watching them was so magical. I enjoyed their company and looked forward to seeing them every day. Each time I look at the trees or the flowers I feel they are all protecting me.
    Being in nature provides a calming sense of peace to my mind and soothes my nerves.
    “Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life.”
    I totally live by this statement 😊
    Thank you, Anna. I am truly grateful to you for inspiring me to take up botanical painting. It’s brought a lot of joy in my life.

  97. Judith Brown on February 10, 2022 at 5:19 pm

    Thank you Anna for sharing your life story. I know the power of nature to positively affect positive change in the mind, body and soul! I struggle at times with depression and anxiety but my faith and my art are my mainstays.
    My daughter and I walk and or snowshoe 4 – 5 times a week in the forest behind our home. At 75 years old I have moved to a Studio apartment in my daughters home. Through the woods it’s a 10 minute walk to the cliffs of the Bay of Fundy in Nova Scotia. We find serenity and are revitalized each time we go. I’m so thankful for the richness of God’s creation and we hope to find ways to share that with others who may be struggling or just need a break!
    You have been such an inspiration to me over the last two years as I have come to believe in myself as an artist.
    Bless you Anna!

  98. cornelia on February 10, 2022 at 7:19 pm

    anna! im so glad you had that connection and were able to be OUT IN NATURE. the magnetic felid is generated from the earth as well and is vital to our health and well being too. being home bound inside! cannot go out in nature anymore, horticulturalist, hiker, skier, loved winter and spine and fall summer too hot but love the flowers.
    i get my nature dose now thru learning to watercolor flowers plants and soon maybe critters.
    with covid the isolation is even more as those can’t come see me as I’m one of the vulnerable…..
    anyway….its been fun seeing your artwork and taking part when I can and sending blessing and good wishes to you for your willingness to share that vital information.

  99. Kathy Barnes on February 10, 2022 at 11:10 pm

    Dear Anna,
    What a beautiful gift you are for myself and everyone. Thank you for sharing your journey. Your vulnerability really helps us all to be more courageous to be our truest selves. When I connect with nature no matter if I’m at the beach, in the bush (here in New Zealand) or my garden, I feel ok and the tension begins to gradually melt away. I love the challenge of learning to paint nature because it brings me back to myself again in a real positive way.
    Much love and hugs,
    Kathy

  100. Anne Proctor on February 11, 2022 at 9:24 pm

    Hi Anna, great to read your story. I have been diagnosed with Pancreatic cancer in June of 2021. Just finished chemo and will be starting radiation soon. Have not worked since July 2021. I’ve taken out my watercolor supplies and vow to start working. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but my Graphic Design job left little time to do my own personal art work. You are inspiring! Thank you! Anne Proctor

  101. Riaan De Witt on February 11, 2022 at 9:38 pm

    I feel so excited to tell the world how my daughter got healed from ALS disease through the help of ALS Formular we purchased from groves herbal medical clinic and the med works amazingly. She have been a victim to these ALS diseases for about 3 years now, The herbs has no side effect on her. Visit grovesherbalclinic.com

  102. Jeniffer on February 12, 2022 at 3:40 pm

    I feel happiest when I’m in nature too. I breathe better, feel better, and worry less. You might enjoy this: https://youtu.be/Bf5TgVRGND4

  103. Bea on February 15, 2022 at 6:03 pm

    This is such an inspiration. You are very courageous to share something so personal. I am inspired by your love of nature and art creation. I am so glad to have found your art school. Wish there were more people like you in this world. Keep inspiring us through your art.

  104. Jo Ann Rom on February 17, 2022 at 5:30 pm

    So sorry you had to go through that experience, but sometimes we are stronger than we think. Nature does have a way to get us through hardships, but I read my Bible everyday to keep me strong. After my husband was diagnosed with cancer, it helped me through his journey and now he is cancer free.

  105. Janet on February 17, 2022 at 5:44 pm

    Dear Anna, thank you so much for being so vulnerable & honest here; what a blessing for those of us readers & wannabe artists! The difficult experiences, & the blessed & positive ones – all together mold us into who we become. And thank God for the persons along the way who can guide & help shape our journey – especially when the going is roughest.
    I am so happy to be part of this study program; I am learning so many good & helpful techniques, though I have a long way to go. I love painting simple watercolor pieces for cards in my spare time (I’m retired, but still involved in alot of activities, so it still feels like time is gold, & I must use it well). I also love nature, the woods, walking through the meadows, planting flowers all around our cottage, growing a few veges…. Thank you for all the ways you inspire us, & many blessings for you & your little family! I hope we get to see your little ones, or a family photo sometime!

  106. Linda Hoenigsberg on February 20, 2022 at 12:36 pm

    Anna…oh, how I relate to this post! I grew up in the concrete jungle that is Los Angeles. I married for the first time at sixteen, choosing a man who was on parole for grand theft auto. The marriage dissolved soon after I got pregnant and gave birth to our son. Then I continued to chose abusive addicted men before finally leaving one for the very last time in 1990…over twenty years of abusive, addicted men! Oh…and I also have thyroid issues and have to have ultrasounds on a lump every year. THEN…I met a very kind man who took me on a trip to Montana, USA, before marrying me. I remember a day back in 1994, sitting on a rock on a large piece of property his parents owned, looking out at the vast valley and to an entire mountain range, and the word, “peace,” hit my mind in such a way I never forgot that moment. Now, almost 28 years of marriage later, we are moving to that piece of land where I will have that view every day. I have countless memories now of feeling that same sense of peace as I look around me at the large rock outcroppings, the trees we have planted, the vividness of the sky in daytime and the vast stars at night, and listen to the birds singing each spring and summer. And I paint. My kind husband built me a studio on the property…and my love of nature and the animals that are part of it find their way into my paintings. I get it.

  107. Megan on March 12, 2022 at 5:13 pm

    I’ve been there too and you describe it perfectly. Drip by drip. Nature was also my refuge and healer. I’m so glad you survived and went on to create something so beautiful and share your gifts with us.

  108. Norma on March 26, 2022 at 11:25 pm

    Anna this is such a beautiful post and what makes it even more special is that you share such a personal and
    tough time in your life. Someone else commented that she would have never thought you went through this, I
    found myself thinking the same thing. It’s incredible to learn this about someone and how they managed, thank
    you for sharing that. Nature has saved me so many times, I’ve lost count. It’s the best medicine in the world but
    art has also saved me – that’s where your wonderful website and tutorials come in. I get lost for hours on a
    painting and force my brain to be quiet and block out all the horrible chatter.
    Thanks for that Anna, for generously sharing your art with all of us, you’ve come a long way from those dark days.

  109. […] And no matter what advancements we make, there’s no getting away from the fact that we are primates. We are a part of nature: not something separate from it. When we feel nature’s beauty, the experience not only strengthens our connection with nature, but it also brings us back to ourselves. […]

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