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

What your brain does with uncertainty

I am (for the most part) totally fine with uncertainty. Yea I plan for the future, but know that things won’t always work out that way I visualized them in my head and I’m okay with that. I can’t possibly know what’s going to happen tomorrow. No one can. IMG_0729

But uncertainty hit me at the beginning of the week and scared the bejeebies out of me. My lab/husky mix dog child Kona, who is one active, healthy, 12 year old, woke up Monday morning and couldn’t walk very well. His hind legs were stiff and straight, his back arched, and he seemed to be in pain.

I immediately knew something was very wrong with my normally full of energy happy kid. I stayed home all day to monitor him and made an appointment with the vet.

Then my brain proceeded to freak the hell out. It said things like OMG!...What’s wrong with him?... This is the beginning of the end… What if he has cancer… I’m not ready for this… You get the picture. Not pretty! Or comforting.

And unfortunately, that’s what our brains do. Tell a story and freak out about a made up future that isn’t even here yet.

Absolutely NOT helpful.

So I pulled out some coaching tools to use on myself.

The first one was to sit outside on my deck surrounded by trees, green grass, and singing birds. I closed my eyes, breathed in, and breathed out.

Then I looked at the situation. I had only two facts in front of me. 1- my dog wasn’t walking right and 2- he was in pain. That’s it. TWO facts. Everything else was just an anxious story my mind spun about what those two facts might mean.

I also noticed and observed the crazy thoughts I had about the gloom and doom of what the future “might” hold. When I did that I became anxious and scared. And then I cried. I let those suckers flow.

Then after crying I’d come back to the present moment with my two facts. And just focusing on those two facts was so much more doable. He’s not walking right, he’s in pain. I’d already made a vet appointment, so help would be coming. I lay with him on the floor petting him and watched him sleep. Interestingly enough, if you are sleeping you don’t know you’re in pain and your back legs work great. Especially because I watched him running in his dream.

That was the key for me. To stay present with the facts. Yes, I was sad that something was off for him, but staying just in the moment, one moment at a time, made it so much less stressful and anxiety provoking.

I’m not going to lie to you. My brain toggled back and forth between staying here and jumping into a scary future. But at least I know I had control over it. I chose whether or not I worried.

You can do it too. Notice something you are worried about for the future. Notice the thoughts you have around it and how you feel. Now notice what the actual facts are in the situation now. Notice the difference between the two.

We made it to the vet and my Kona had a herniated disc in his back pressing on a nerve affecting his legs. He got an injection plus great meds and he is SO much better. My boy’s spunk is back. I am beyond grateful for amazing veterinary medical technology.

And for coaching tools to help me stay here and now. Because that’s where life happens. Not tomorrow or 6 years from then. In each little moment. Now. I can handle life if it’s broken down like that.

I bet you can too.

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

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

Nurturing Your True Nature

As much as I am a teacher and guide, I am also simultaneously a student.  Nurture you. I am currently in a deep learning role as I have joined a year-long nature-based coaching course which is teaching me how to connect with the natural world in such a way that I can learn more about my strengths, desires, and gifts that only I have to share with the world.

I spent this last weekend at a nature reserve in NY with my class, all life coaches, learning as students, to no only discover our gifts but to utilize the natural world to help connect our clients to their own true nature as well.

I always knew on some level that the fast pace of the world did not fit my true nature. I find the same with many of my clients who are tired of burning the candle at both ends and feeling like they never have enough time.

Some of the practices I’ve started have helped me change perspective, shown me insights, and helped bring more calm and presence into my life. I thought I would share one practice with you in hopes that you might benefit too.

It’s called Sit Spot.

Find a place not too far from the front door of where you live, but away from any distractions where you can be out in some form of nature. I invite you to go sit outside for 10-15 minutes. I suggest committing to just one week.

The only rule is that you just notice what you notice about nature and yourself without judgment. Without judgment.

So here’s the thing. Your mind is going to do what human minds do. It’s going to talk to you about all the things you have to do and should be doing, and that sitting doing nothing is a waste of your time, that it’s boring, and dumb. Thank your brain for its input and remind it that it’s only 15 minutes and 1 week out of a 52-week year.

Don’t worry. After a bit your brain will settle down. And that’s when cool stuff happens.

As you sit, ask yourself the following questions...

What do I notice?

What can I learn from what I’m noticing?

Where else is this showing up in my life?

Nature will always act as a mirror, reflecting back to you what is happening inside of you. Always.

It will show you what is true for you in that moment.

What you do with that information is up to you.

Your Turn: What have you learned about yourself from nature in the past? Leave 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 with your friends if you think they might benefit, and the rest you can leave behind.

Bloom On!

Seeds of Kindness Bloom and Bloom and Bloom…

Image courtesy of Nick Coombs/