By Nick Italiano
In my home we always joke about how the outdoors saved my life, but it’s not actually all that far from the truth. While I’ve been outdoorsy for as long as I can remember, two years ago I made some life changes that really immersed me in the great outdoors.
A little background on what my life was like previous to the pandemic. I worked in the finacial industry my entire adult life despite having college degrees in Environmental Sciences. I wore a suit everyday, lunched with clients, attended networking events, as well as endless meetings and conferences. During the week days my entire day and most of the night was dedicated to building my business. During the nearly two decades I did this I was hospitalized numerous times with cardiac and neurological issues and had more then one corrective heart procedure. Despite the huge amount of stress I put on myself during the week, I always looked forward to a weekend in the great outdoors. Those weekends are what I lived for, that is the only way I could recharge my batteries to get through another week of work.
As I got older my cardiac and neurological issues became more severe, but being the stubborn person that I am, I was determined to work myself to death if need be to make as much money as I could. I did this for my family, at least that what I told myself. In reality I rarely seen my family there were days that I would leave the house before anyone woke up and not return until everyone was asleep. It was a vicious cycle that wasn’t good for my health, my mental and emotional well being, or my family.
Then the pandemic occurred, my business slowed down significantly, but I was able to keep it a float. I had a lot more time on my hands then I was used to, and we were all stuck in the house so we decided to get out and hike more. It didn’t take long to realize how much I was missing out on with my wife and kids. I enjoyed being outdoors with them, teaching them, and watching them enjoy nature. I lost a ton of weight, I had less cardiac/neurological episodes, and felt better then I had in years.
When the world went to remote work we decided to move from the heavily congested Long Island town we lived in to rural Connecticut. We were happier then we ever have been, enjoying all the beauty and splendor of living in a place that was essentially in the woods. Despite this I returned to my old ways of working myself to the bone. After a few months the only time I seen the woods I so loved was when I was driving to go somewhere. Before to long I was back in the hospital, and essentially being told that modern medicine had no more solutions for me. It was change my life style or continue going in and out of the hospital until my heart gave out or I cracked my skull open from a black out episode.
At my wife’s behest I closed my business and left the second job I was working to help make up for the pandemic slow down. I spiraled into a pit of despair and feeling of worthlessness. I did find myself venturing back to the woods though and that is where I found my peace. Being out there felt right, it felt like home. I started sharing more of those experiences on my social media accounts and really took the time to practice the outdoor skills I spent a life time of weekends developing.
Despite all that I was not happy not having a source of income to help my amazingly hard working wife out with. Now I called this article How The Outdoors Saved Me, but maybe it should be titled how my wife saved me; because this website and the new found structure on my social media accounts was all her idea. She said to me “you love being outdoors, you love sharing your knowledge…make it your business.”
So I did just that, and low and behold I started making some money doing what I loved; but more importantly I was spending almost all my time outdoors with my family. We collectively adopted more simple life values, and found the joy in just being with each other and caring more about being in nature then amassing piles of material things. I started studying herbalism and found some natural ways to help support my cardiac and neurological issues. I became happier and healthier then I can ever remember being.
Have my medical issues disappeared? No, but they have become more manageable with a reduction of stress, life style changes, and the help of holistic support. I have learned to accept my limitations and work around them so I can still do what I love. My relationship with my family is better than it ever has been. While the change in income took some adjusting to, I learned money isn’t everything, and it certainly does not buy happiness.
I share this story because I sincerely hope that someone reads it and it resonates with them. I share it in the hopes that they can find some peace. I share it in the hopes that someone who is on the verge of working themselves to death can see that there is more to life, and that seeking to make as much money for their family as possible is meaningless if they are not there for their family.
Until next time…stay wild my friends!