A BOLD Move in the Retail World

Today’s post was supposed to be about what I learned backpacking for 10 days. It will have to wait until next time because something important happened this week that I think is more worthy of sharing. As you know, I work part-time at the outdoor outfitting store (and largest co-op in the country), REI. The six values REI holds sacred are authenticity, service, quality, respect, integrity, and balance. The company works very hard to ensure these values are upheld in everything they do, from the way in which they support their employees, the way they do business with their customers, and the way they support the environment with each individual store contributing money and volunteers to help people get outside and enjoy a richer life.

So if you haven’t heard yet (but I’m pretty sure you have), this past Monday Jerry Stritzke, the President and CEO of REI, announced to both his employees and the world that REI would be closed on Black Friday, AND would be paying all of their employees, AND is inviting co-op members, employees, and anyone else interested to #optoutside for that day instead of slogging it out at the stores or spending hours online shopping.

BRA-VO Jerry!

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

Not only that, they’ve set up a website,, for people to go and share what they’ll be doing outside with their friends and family the day after Thanksgiving. I call it Thanksgiving 2. Giving thanks to mother nature for all that she does for us. Without her, we would not be here at all.

Think about the for a moment. Black Friday is one of the largest money-making days of the year for retail stores. My company, has decided that it’s okay if they don’t bring in millions of dollars that day (MILLIONS). AND with zero coming in they are going to give out a day of pay to over 12,000 employees. That’s not a small chunk of change. We can all shop 24/7/365. But REI is saying not at our store. You have one day you can’t. And please, for the love of the outdoors, go out and be a part of it.

It’s a bold risk for sure. But isn’t it about time that someone in the retail world stood up and said money doesn’t have to be our only indicator of success. Maybe part of that success is taking care of your people who are the ones that have made your company so successful. And allowing for balance at the start of the crazed holiday season. And inviting everyone who can and is willing, to go outside and be, and play, and breathe, and enjoy.

There’s a reason the bottom of every page on my website, and every blog and newsletter I write says, Get Outside and Nurture Your Life. And REI’s motto is a Life Outdoors is a Life Well Lived.

Please tell me, do your best memories come from that time you went to Macy's and bought that amazing sweater? Do you remember the perfumed aisles and the awesome lighting in the dressing room? Or do you remember that time you camped out on that gorgeous lake with water so still you could see the exact reflection of the trees in it? The birds that sang to you in the morning as the sun came up, rippling the clouds in the sky with pinks, oranges, and purples so breathtaking that you just didn’t have words to describe it. I somehow believe (and really hope) that those are the memories you hold important.

This is not only a call from one retail store to stop the madness for one day, I see it as a call to start a Get Outside Revolution. Tell me who doesn’t come back from time spent in nature on the beach, in the mountains, on the water, refreshed, relaxed, and rejuvenated?

What do I know to be true right now?

Nature IS one of the main paths to our whole and peaceful selves. It not only connects us to something bigger than ourselves, but I believe that something bigger than ourselves is part of our DNA. We are not separate from the whole, the whole is part of us.

So don’t even wait for Black Friday, get outside and make it part of your weekly if not daily routine. You will never waste a second of your life if it is spent outside taking in everything natures’ got to offer. She will give to you exactly what you need if you let her. But you must spend time with her to receive her gifts.

There’s a reason REI is one of the top 100 companies to work for as rated by Fortune Magazine. Today I am one proud #REIemployee. If you's like to be a part, here's that link again,

Leave a comment on the blog below if you’d like.

If you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”, please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

~ Susan

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

A different kind of adventure

There’s that Woody Allen quote that goes “If you want to make God laugh, tell him about your plans”. And yes, I did have plans. Pretty big ones. Like to hike 100 miles of the AT with my good friend. And then I got a call. Less than 24 hours before my flight left, my friend called to say she had flown to be with her father as he was at the end of his life. And boom, just like that, all those plans vanished.

I of course completely understood and supported her in being with him. The timing of it was really quite wonderful. At least we weren’t in the middle of the trail when the call came. THAT would have been much worse.

But of course I was in shock and denial for a bit. All that planning and preparation, all those hours and miles hiking with a pack, ALL that backpacking food I had organized. I was deeply sad for my friend and deeply disappointed about the loss of our trip. I liken it to training for a marathon. You’ve spent so much time getting ready for the big day, then the morning of, you wake up with the stomach flu, vomiting out one end and diarrhea out the other. I sat with that disappointment for several hours. I felt it. Just like I tell my friends and clients. You have to feel what you’re going through. Not push it away. It must get it’s due.

But I had other options. My husband said, “the weather is supposed to be gorgeous here and we have a trillion trails you haven’t been on. You can still go”. Well of course I could.

So I spent the day I would have been flying back east coming up with a plan that would allow me to backpack for 10 days, with stops at my car to resupply as needed, and taking one night at home to shower and sleep in my bed.

And that’s what I did. I spent two nights out on my own, then a fabulous friend joined me. We had amazing weather with only a couple of chilly nights where hats and gloves were needed. We hiked on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) as well as several trails that would weave in and out of it. We stayed at a different lake every night. We had amazing views of lava, and glaciers, and rainforest, and burnt forest, creeks and waterfalls, and bouts of strong wind. We saw some very cool frogs and interesting mushrooms and fungi. We only had to hike a short distance and the terrain would constantly change.

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

Other than a few sprinkles one day we never had rain. And as luck would have it, the one night we got off the trail it rained hard in the mountains with snow falling at the higher elevations. We missed the experience of being soggy.

When you’re out there you have a limited focus. Getting from point A to point B, making sure you eat enough food, finding water to filter and drink, and not getting lost. You don’t think about the war on terror, the drought, or whose running for president. It’s you, the trail, and everything you have on your back.

I could have easily scrubbed the whole thing and decided not to do anything, but that just didn’t seem like a good option. I would have let myself down. Instead I thought about my friend every day. I tried to honor the time we would have spent together.

In the end, I was laughing. Those initial plans got thwarted but I came up with plan B.

What do I know to be true right now?

Not all of our plans work out the way we’d like. That doesn’t mean there’s a problem. In fact I think the universe orchestrates everything beautifully and perfectly, even if we can’t see it or understand why. My friend needed to be with her dad and I needed to be here. I don’t know why and it doesn’t even matter.

We’re making a plan to hike the AT in the spring. Let’s see if the universe allows that one to go through. ;)

Next week I’ll share what I learned backpacking for 10 days. Maybe some of the things that surprised me will surprise you too.

Leave a comment on the blog below if you’d like.

If you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”, please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

~ Susan

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Saying YES to adventure

Happy Fall everyone! I hope wherever you live you are either enjoying cooler temperatures, the changing color of the leaves, or both. About 3 months ago, a good friend of mine asked if I wanted to hike part of the Appalachian Trail (AT) with her this October. As my brain often does with a new idea, the roadblocks popped up. I can’t do that. I can’t get that time off from work. I can’t leave my husband. That would be so unfair of me to leave on a really fun trip and he’d be stuck at home.

But you know what, the idea actually intrigued me. I did want to go. I talked with my husband about it and he said point blank, if the shoe were on the other foot (his foot), I’d totally go. Well, why the hell not I decided.

So for the past 6 weeks I have been preparing, planning, and practicing (the three P’s) for a 101 mile journey that will last 10 days. Starting midway through MA we’ll hike south through CT, and end up in northern NY. Part of my 3 P’s has been putting a 24-28 pound pack on my back, slowly working up to 14 miles per day hiking, figuring out what items truly are essential to carry (because that pack gets heavy let me tell you), and figuring out how much food I really need. When I said yes to this adventure, I took it seriously. I wanted to be as prepared for this trip, physically, mentally, and emotionally as I could.

Susan Grace Carroll, Life Coach, Bend, OR

My husband has a hip injury right now and can’t go out with me on the longer hikes. I decided a few weeks ago to go on an overnight with a friend but she couldn’t make it either. The very next idea that popped into my head was, I’ll go by myself. I’ve NEVER solo-backpacked anywhere overnight. My mind said, if Sheryl Strayed can hike the PCT solo for 3 months, I can swing one whole night.

So I set out on my first adventure alone. One 24 hour period, just me (and my pack). Now there’s something you’ve got to know about me that’s super important. I’m not very good with maps. Take that in for a moment. Me, heading out for a solo outing, I’m not so hot at reading maps, and I’m going to hike about 20 miles roundtrip to a campsite that isn't on the map, that I’m just going to create when I get there. Let me just say, my husband was a teeny bit worried. I secretly think he was more worried than he let on, but…

Let me say this about being on a trail on your own. EVERY sound in the forest is magnified by 20. Every branch breaking, bird chirping, squirrel running from tree to tree, is quite obvious to your ears. I wasn’t scared really. No scared isn’t the right word. Highly alert is what I was. More aware than usual for sure.

I followed my map like a hawk. Every time I got to a trail junction, a creek, or a lake, I whipped it out just to make sure I knew where I was at all times. I made great time and asked the universe for the perfect campsite by the lake. It delivered.

Lest you think I have some big lead up here to a crazy mishap, I don’t. That would certainly make a great story though. Everything went great. I had no problems setting up and breaking down my tent, cooking, all the things you do when you’re backpacking alone and don’t have someone with which to share those duties.

What I learned was that I could do it. I gained confidence. I gained courage. I gained independence. I gained gratitude.

I know I’m not the only woman to do this but I’ve done it. I think I might be more amazed than proud. Amazed at what my body can do when properly prepared. Amazed at how quiet the world is when you take out man made sounds. Amazed at the awesome lightweight gear technology allows when taking everything you need to survive out in the woods. Amazed that if I really pay attention to the map, I do know where I am.

And you know what? I had such a good time I did it again the next weekend!

On Sunday October 4th I fly east to meet my friend and begin our AT adventure. I’m excited. She’s super fun. I’m a little nervous, but not sure about what. If you’ve been reading my newsletter you know I’ve been in physical therapy since May to help with an out of balance body that has caused neck, shoulder, hip, and foot pain for the last few years. I’m still going but less frequently. I’m happy to report my body is 95% better. I’m fully grateful for my physical Therapist and to myself for putting in the time to do a gazillion home exercises to get me back to a body that feels so good now. So maybe I’m just a tad nervous my body will have problems out there. It might. But I’m armed with tools to help.

So what do I know to be true right now?

Planning, preparing, and practice (those 3 P’s) are what have enabled me to confidently say yes to this adventure. I’m not just winging it like Bill Bryson’s sidekick Katz in his book, A Walk in the Woods. I wouldn't have the confidence and might not even have as much fun.

I had to let my mind have its say ay the beginning when it wasn’t sure of the whole idea, but then I listened to what I really wanted to do, and that was to say yes, go, and do it.

I’ll get back to you in a few weeks and let you know how it all went. If you could send some sunny sky vibes east I’d sure appreciate it.

Leave a comment on the blog below if you’d like.

If you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”, please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

~ Susan

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Why Mother Nature is a Gift

I can’t tell you how many times I hear a version of the same answer over and over again when I ask someone what getting out in nature does for them. This is what they say, “It brings me peace, clarity, expands my heart, connects me to the world.”

“It fills me with fresh ideas and fresh perspective.”

“It’s my home.”

“It recalibrates my sense of well-being and rightness in the world.”

“It gives me appreciation, calmness, grounding.”

“It inspires me, renews me.”

“It gives me peace and joy.” woman-out-in-nature-looking-at-camera

“It calms my mind and generally makes me feel happier, more optimistic.”

“It’s refreshing and peaceful at the same time.”

“Nature is my spirituality.”

“It gives me a sense of peace, awe, gratitude, and connection with the universe.”

“It helps me remember everything runs in cycles and will change”,

“It frees my body, mind, and spirit.”

Wow- that Mother Nature has got it goin’ on!

This is what she does to us, for us. She is always there to help bring us back to ourselves. Back to a more natural state of peace. Peace, groundedness, centeredness is who we are at a core level.

I can think of almost nothing better than spending time outside and feeling peaceful, connected, re-energized, grounded, happier, and with a calmer mind.

We each enjoy her differently. Some of us like to sit by a river or at the beach. Some enjoy biking or hiking, some like to photograph nature, some like to garden.

What’s most important is that we actually spend time with her. Regularly. The to-do list will always be there. For the rest of your days. So let it be.

There are times when you need to step out of your everyday, a million things to do life, and go outside. Spend 10 minutes watching the birds at your bird feeder like I’m doing as I type this. Spend 3 hours hiking along a gorgeous river, like I did a few weekends ago.

I promise you that if you allow yourself to be there and take it all in, you will leave feeling some if not all of the things mentioned above.

And what happens when you get back to your regular life? Because you feel more grounded and centered, you'll have more energy, you’ll able to make more clear decisions, you'll prioritize better, you'll discover what’s more important at the moment. You can often get out of the muck and focus.

And that’s the gift. Mother nature brings you back to yourself. Your best self.

So I suggest you grab your calendar right now.



And flip through the next month, and schedule yourself time in nature. I don’t care if it’s once a week, or once a day. For 6 hours, or 20 minutes. But schedule it. And do it. And enjoy. Not only will you like yourself better. Others will like you more too.

She not only sustains everything on this planet, she sustains us. Without us, she would continue just fine.

Appreciate her and she will nurture you.

If you’d like, Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

If you found this helpful, let me know. I’d love to  hear from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Choosing the beaten path

My husband, our two furry friends and I, love to hike. When we lived in Alaska, hiking often meant we wouldn’t pass another soul while we were out. We loved that! That doesn’t happen so much here in the lower 48.


Over the weekend we decided to go hike one of the endless trails here. We chose a popular one. There were a ton of cars in the parking area at the trailhead. I have to admit, we weren’t really all that excited about sharing the trail with a bazillion other people.

But for some reason we didn’t come across that many while we were out.

No only that, the longer we hiked on this well worn trail, the more awesome the landscape became. Mt. Bachelor was to our left and Broken Top was straight ahead, front and center. It was, as my husband likes to say,


And we never would have seen all that spectacular-ness (made up word J) had we not chosen the beaten path that day.

While they say the road less traveled is where life happens, I’d say the well-traveled road has its perks too. It’s well traveled for a reason.

Have you got a story about taking the road more or less traveled? Please. Share it with us.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

susan small sig 05:14

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Death CAN be a gift

My husband and I woke early one morning last week to watch the sunrise in Hilton Head. It was beautiful. Gray clouds on the horizon became peach, then pink, as the sun made it’s way higher into the sky.

We decided to walk down the beach while it was still the coolest part of the day. About 10 minutes down the sandy shore, we spotted a group of people gathered at the water’s edge.

As we got closer, I saw why they were there.

A pilot whale had beached itself and was lying on it’s side.   pilot whale hilton head

I instantly burst into tears. I was overcome with sadness in that moment.

A man standing there said the whale had been alive less than 30 minutes before we got there.

I instinctively walked up to it and placed my hand on it’s belly. It may sound crazy, but I was hoping to feel it’s heart beat. Hoping to find out he, or she, wasn’t dead. The whale felt a bit like rubber but since rigor mortis hadn’t set in, this amazing creature had a softness to it. I cried even more.

I have no idea why this whale died. Was it sick? Just it’s time?

What I do know is that being in presence of a 15 ft. long whale, even though it was no longer living, was a gift.

Death always reminds me of life. What’s important to me. Who’s important to me.

It helps me re-evaluate how I show up in the world every day. How I treat others. How I treat myself.

Am I living my life in union with what I tell others and myself is important?

I didn’t know this whale. He or she wasn’t even human. No matter, it’s life, and it’s death, was a gift.

A chance for me to see again, with eyes more clear.

Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Go fly a kite

When was the last time you flew a kite? Seriously.

I’m on vacation at a reunion with my husband’s family in Hilton Head, SC. With 17 people including 8 kids ranging in age from 5-18, we’re having a ball. Bike rides, tennis, playing games, body surfing in the waves, building sand castles, and flying kites.

We all headed to beach one evening after dinner with an assortment of kites that were either shaped like diamonds and really inexpensive as well as kites that were more technologically advanced, one was even a dragon fly.  flying kites on the beach

It was so fun to watch both the adults become kids flying those kites, zooming them left and right in the sky, and the younger kids with their big, wide eyes taking turns trying to get their kites off the ground and soaring. That look of anticipation in their eyes and the excitement in their giggle when the kite takes off and flies up is priceless.

There was no distinction between the adults and kids. Bright eyes, excitement, expectation, laughing, smiling. In the moment.

To be a part of it and watch at the same time… awesome.

Go find a park or a beach on a windy day, fly a kite, and just enjoy. You won’t be disappointed.

When was the last time you flew a kite? Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

What nature can do for you

I visited our most awesome local farmer’s market last week. On my walk back to the car, which was parked near the Deschutes River, my intuition piped in telling me to go sit by the river. I know better than to NOT follow it. I found a great place right at the edge covered with wood chips and I sat down and settled in. As I looked onto the river, a male mallard duck immediately swam over to me. I thought he was coming over to come hang out with me until I realized he was only looking for food. Ha! Male_mallard

He saw that I didn’t have any food and slowly swam away. Except, he didn’t go far. After just a few feet, he dunked his head and lifted his butt into the air kicking his little webbed feet to stay balanced while eating whatever ducks eat from the bottom of the river. I giggled at him. Repeatedly. He looked SO adorable in that position. Head down, butt up, legs kicking. I sat mesmerized by this single duck in front of me, doing what ducks do. I began to notice the beautiful green and black colors of the feathers of his head. The white ring around his neck, and the cute as a button black curly feathers at the base of his tail. This bird was gorgeous.

I sat for quite a while just being curious about him. In wonder and awe at this creature that is a vital part of our ecological system. Time stood still. It didn’t even exist. Bliss.

Not once did I worry that I wasn’t at a job making money, or I wasn’t getting something crossed off my to-do list. I was calm, relaxed, and just enjoying that moment. With that duck.

We need more of these moments in our busy lives. Taking the time to sit, be curious, and in wonder of what’s completely natural, right in front of us. The quality of my life in that hour was priceless. No agenda, no worries, just peace and enjoyment.

It didn’t cost me a dime.

That’s what nature does. It puts us back into our natural state of peace.

Why did my intuition ask me to go sit by the river? Maybe to feel peaceful. Maybe to give me a blog post idea so I could write and remind you to take time to go outside and marvel at what’s there so you can find some peace too.

It doesn’t even matter really.

What I do know is I left feeling fulfilled and grateful for my time with that duck. He reminded me of the fascinating world we live in.

The natural one.

When are you heading outside next? Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

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Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

The dog and the squirrel

Elvis the stalking dog and Elvira the unsuspecting squirrel play a little game at our house. Elvira the Unsuspecting

Elvis, in a non-stalking position

Elvira happily munches on birdseed that has fallen on the deck below the bird feeder outside our living room window.

Elvis stalks her, standing very still, poised to run after and catch her, if he can.

But he never does catch her.


Because just as he has been so stealth and silent in his movements by the window, the second he takes off tearing down the hallway to run through the doggie door onto the deck, Elvis lets out a loud, high pitched squeal. Elvira can’t help but hear him coming, even if she hasn’t seen him.

And he does it every time.

With this strategy he will never catch her.

Does this sound familiar?

Where in your life are you trying to accomplish something using one strategy over and over again with the same results? The results you really don’t want.

Poor Elvis is just a dog. His brain probably can’t comprehend that losing the squeal might equal catching the squirrel.

But your brain can understand, that if you want a different result, you’ve got to do something different. It could be thinking about it in a new way so you feel differently, then take a new action.

Say you have a desire (A), so you take action (B), to get result (C).

But you aren’t getting C.

What does B need to look like in order to increase your chances of getting C?

Try it. If it doesn’t work, try something else.

As I heard a Master Gardner recently say “every year my garden is an experiment.” That coming from someone who knows A LOT about gardening.

I think all of life is an experiment really.

Go try it out.

Let me know about one thing you changed to get what you want that made all the difference. Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me,

If this struck you and you think, “I know one friend who would really like this”. Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

susan small sig 05:14Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Welcome to my new website! A virtual home for women who want to relax, slow down, and learn how mother nature can nurture their lives.

Let me get right down to it.    standing close up

I'm on a new mission.

To help women transition through change in life better, slow down in this fast crazy paced world, and get outside and nurture their lives.

It's time to get out and become present to all the amazing beauty that surrounds us.

There is so much research on the huge benefits to our health, minds, and souls. The more we spend time out in green spaces, the more peaceful we feel. The more at peace we feel, the more our cells are in a happy place in our body, able to keep us functioning at a high level with a good immune system.

The happier and healthier we are, the more energy we have to share and give to others.

The time is truly now.

So get to it. Feel the sun on your skin, hear the birds singing, smell the air, see the buds and blooms.

Don't just take my word for all of this, get outside and notice how you feel. That will be your true test.

Tell me what you think. Leave a comment on the blog below, or email me directly,

If this struck you and you think, "I know one friend who would really like this". Please forward it to them.

I love hearing from you.

~ Susan Get Outside and Nurture Your Life

Building your community

We human beings are social creatures. That means, at least some of the time, we need to be around other people we can connect with. holdinghands

But not just anyone will do. You need to find your people. Often you find those people in various groups in your life.

Some can be found at work, or a place you volunteer, maybe in line at the coffee shop, or when you try something new like taking a painting class.

Having moved and settled into a new hometown, I’m building my own local community. It’s exciting and actually scarier and harder than I thought it might be. It’s almost like going on a first date all the time. How will I come across? What will I say? How much info. is too much info. to share? Will they like me? Will I like them? I’m not sure if that ever goes away. But then I realize I’m looking for my people. The one’s that like me will, the one’s that don’t won’t. And that’s okay.

In the end, my community will be the people who get my silly quirks and still love me, and I’ll get their goofy mannerisms and love them too.

There are endless possibilities to meet new people and build a community for yourself. Here are a few in my town. You may have many similar ones too.

Online you can go to and type in your town. It will show you quite an array of different groups meeting to hike, bike, go to movies, have tea, play games, learn computer stuff, etc… I started going to coffee meetups here and found a ton of woman in my same shoes. Either they were new to town and didn’t know many people or had been here a while and many of their friends had moved.

Look in your local newspaper or magazine. Maybe you have a community college or university where you can take an inexpensive class in something you’ve always wanted to learn more about.

People want to learn, share, grow, and connect. It makes us feel good. We know we aren’t alone and have people around us to be there during the happy and the hard times.

It’s spring! Get out and commune. You’ll find your people if you look. I promise they’re out there.

And I want to thank you for being a part of my community here online. I love the comments you leave on the blog or email to me. There are some smart, deeply feeling people in this community. We can’t meet in person and have coffee but I know if we could it would be super fun. We’re all on the same team and that feels good. Thank you again.

Join the conversation on the blog by leaving a comment below, or email me,

I am grateful to be able to spend some time with you virtually today. Thank you.

As always, take from here what works for you, share this with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest… you can leave behind.

Bloom On!