Lucy McRobert lost her mother to cancer when she was sixteen. Although it wasn’t as easily recognised at the time, she feels she suffered from some form of anxiety or depression, which she unconsciously suppressed until university when she rediscovered her love of nature. It was this passion for wildlife that helped her overcome the grief she had kept concealed for all those years.
It’s been proven that spending time outside and connecting with nature improves mental state and wellbeing. “Just like eating a balanced diet and exercising helps our minds and bodies”, Lucy writes, “Wildlife and wild places help us to get active, encourage us to be more social, improve our confidence and creativity and help us cope with stressful life events”. It’s true that nature is free therapy, but it’s also true that with hectic schedules and mundane commitments it can be difficult to get outside, or sometimes even find the motivation to do so.
That’s where 30 Days Wild came in. During her time working for the Wildlife Trusts, Lucy set up the 30 Days Wild campaign to encourage people to do “random acts of wildness” for every day in June. Involvement has grown exponentially since the campaign began five years ago and encourages everyone to take part in wildlife-based activities, whether that’s noticing something new, sharing experiences with others or taking a more practical approach and making positive changes to the environment.
The campaign led to Lucy expanding 30 days into 365 and so came her beautiful new book, published earlier this year. The concept isn’t to climb a mountain or build a pond each day, but instead encourages us to take part in ways as simple as making a daisy chain or buying a reusable coffee cup. When broken down into small steps and prompted by useful hints and ideas, Lucy’s book shows that it’s easy to stay wild even in a technological world.
I’m embarrassed to admit that I signed up for 30 Days Wild a few years ago and abandoned ship within the first week. Now I see that I’d had my sights set too high. Sometimes it’s impossible to walk outside every day, so Lucy recommends stashing back-up plans up your sleeve, such as buying a new field guide or queuing up a Netflix documentary when you’re feeling lacklustre or just lacking the time.
Inspired by Lucy’s passion and eager to give the project another go, I purchased something I’d seen earlier at Birdfair but couldn’t think of anything to use it for. I’d spotted a beautiful hardback sketchbook with stunning artwork from Mandi Baykaa-Murray AKA “The Feather Lady” on the front, who paints extraordinarily detailed bird portraits onto feathers (side note: check out Mandi’s art it’s truly incredible!) Now I had the perfect reason to buy it. Day one: Start a wild diary.