#1000hoursoutside Challenge- 2023

Because otherwise I’d never leave the house in January

If you don’t know me very well (yet), here’s the quick rundown:

Grew up in Southern California

Maintained an active and adventurous life outdoors (hiking, surfing, swimming, etc)

Moved to Iowa in 2013

Whines when it’s less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit

Assumes full hermit status during winter months whenever possible

That’s basically the necessary schema to understand why a commitment to spend 1,000 hours outside with my family this year may leave me slightly in over my head. I mean, that’s about 83 hours a month/19 hours a week/2.7 hours a day. It’s not, nothing. In fact, we’re talking a possible double overhead situation (for all you surf enthusiasts).

But it’s also entirely accomplishable, as evidenced by someone I admire in Iowa whose family just celebrated their 2022 met milestone. Her reflections and photos throughout last year are what inspired me to adopt this challenge for my own family. And I was pleasantly surprised to find out that everyone was on board. Except that also means if anyone’s going to screw this up, it’ll be me. Womp womp.

So here I am, four days into this challenge and making it even harder for myself to quietly slip away from all accountability. Maybe I’m a fool to make this public. Maybe I’ll inspire you to get outside. Maybe you’ll roll your eyes and block my account. But one thing is certain, you can expect full honesty and a complete lack of self dignity when it comes to these updates. To quote Ginny Yurich on her website 1000hoursoutside.com, “Even if you fail, you win.”

How often can you expect updates on our progress? Ha, I have no idea. I’d love to say I’ll be super organized about this and post blogs weekly or monthly or one of the meanings of bi-weekly (is it twice a week or every two weeks?!), but instead I’ll shy from that kind of promise- let’s just see how it goes, okay?

How has it been going so far?

Okay, so it’s only January 4th, when resolutions and goals are notoriously still on track and the positive momentum is high. But even still- this challenge has drastically altered the way I ‘January.’ Typically, in Iowa, I spend as little time outside as possible. My instinct is to hibernate with a blanket, some snacks, and loads of screen time. Which isn’t healthy or fun or even how I’m used to being alive. I’m also responsible for the physical and mental health of two young children (3&5) so it was all the more important I shift my perspective.

We’ve officially tracked 3.5 hours outside so far. Realistically we’ve done more than that separately but I’m trying to log in time spent together. It doesn’t sound like much, but it includes: Wanatee Park, Pinicon Ridge, reading, walking the dog, and motorized Jeep driving. The temperature has been in the 30s and this includes going outside during icy drizzle, snow, and very sleek sidewalks. Overall, I’m proud of our small but significant start.

Winter takeaways

This might sound lame, but you guys! There are no bugs! They like, have burrowed underground or whatever and they’re not buzzing in your ears or sucking your blood or crawling up your ankles. It’s…pretty sweet. I also discovered that I really enjoy the feel of stepping on frozen grass and ice and snow mounds. It crunches and flattens and gives just a little bit of delightful sensory input. We’ve also spotted deer, hawks, cardinals, and eagles.

I’ll leave with this, I’ll probably always be a summer kind of girl, but I’m beginning to warm up to January like frozen fingers finding their way into the perfect pair of gloves.