Podcast Host Jessica Bowser Discusses the Value of Journaling About Outdoor Experiences

Jessica Bowser, host of the Virginia Outdoor Adventures Podcast, started Virginia State Parks Trail Quest in 2015, checking out every state park over the course of five years. In 2019, when then-state parks director Craig Seaver talented her with a state parks journal while she was going to Natural Tunnel State Park, she started journaling about the experience. In the interview below, Bowser discusses the fantastic outdoors, composing, and mental health.

INSPIRED BY OTHER PEOPLES STORIES

Mind the Dog Writing Blog: You dont generally journal in your everyday life. What made you decide to journal about your state park sees?

Jessica Bowser: The inspiration came from the journals in each of the cabins. When you leaf through those journals, you discover individuals have actually had really various experiences, even though they are all staying in the same location and the same activities are offered to everyone; everybody makes it uniquely their own. Those journals trigger you to get in a lot of various info, and so when I do go back and read it, I can believe about things that were really specific to that trip that I probably would have otherwise forgotten.

A relaxing fireside at Hungry Mother State Park supplies the ideal location for Bowser to compose about her experience at the park in March 2020.

THE VALUE OF RE-READING PAST ENTRIES: REMEMBERING THE PAST, PLANNING FOR THE FUTURE

MTDWB: How frequently do you return and read your journal entries? What effect does doing so have on you?

When I read my journal, I can consider what else I d like to perform in the future, but likewise be reminded of fascinating and fun and significant things that have actually taken place in the past.

JB: I dont read them awfully frequently, however when I am really at a cabin and I complete an entry, I often flip back and see what else I had actually composed months or perhaps a year or more prior to. The entire purpose of the journal is to keep a record of what Ive done so that I can remember my experience. Im not satisfying that objective if I do not go back and read it. The advantage that it has, is it brings up a lot of fond memories, but then it also makes me believe, Oh, I really want to return here and do this other thing or Theres another park I wish to go to that I havent been to in a while where I can likewise have this exact same experience. For instance, if I really took pleasure in kayaking at Belle Isle, it makes me think, What parks have I not kayaked at?– because I didnt have my kayak up until last year, so where else do I want to return to? Well, Smith Mountain Lake is one place that I would enjoy to kayak. Ill be there this June and Ill get to have that experience. When I read my journal, I can believe about what else I d like to carry out in the future, but likewise be reminded of intriguing and fun and significant things that have actually occurred in the past.

ON ADAPTING THE JOURNALS TO A PUBLISHED PIECE

MTDWB: Would you ever consider publishing your journal( s) in some type? Why or why not?

REFLECTING ON EXPERIENCES.

JB: I had not considered it, today that you say it aloud, it sounds like a future book! Its fascinating you say that, since part of the reason I began the podcast is since theres a genuine absence of diversity and likewise an absence of representation of quite much all groups except white men, however ladies specifically. Its doing not have in the outside market and its lacking in podcasting, so a podcast by a woman about the outdoors is sort of filling the gap in 2 various spaces. The larger group that is interested in the podcast are ladies my age, which isnt unexpected. I believe it truly interest them due to the fact that they dont typically become aware of someone like themselves doing this..

MTDWB: How did you feel about journaling during your gos to?

JB: Even on the nights when I was actually exhausted and I d believe, Oh, gosh. I have not done this yet and I truly require to, I never dreaded it. I most likely wouldnt do it– I do take pleasure in doing it if it was a task. I simulate considering all the things I might have otherwise missed out on. I d actually consider what I did on Day One, what I did on Day Two. I d ask myself how did that make me feel, what did I take pleasure in about it, what would I like to do differently, what would I like to do when I come back. It was reflective. You do have to really believe about everything you did and why you did it and might it be various and was it worth it and all of the important things. As an educator, I come at it from having that practice of being reflective and journaling. I value being able to think of what the meaning and the function is while Im writing.

ON JOURNALING AND MINDFULNESS.

MTDWB: How did you feel after each entry?

Bowser journals by the fireside in a cabin at James River State Park in November 2020.

I only say that since I constantly journal at night and after a long day, I simply desire to crawl into bed. I felt satisfied because I took the time to think about my experience. I believe that is something individuals are beginning to end up being more conscious of, and they are trying to be more in the minute.

Journaling assists me to be more present.

JOURNALING: GROWTH THROUGH REMEMBERING.

MTDWB: Did anything surprise you about your journaling experience?

Journaling assists me with considering those moments when I pushed myself. I like to look back on those moments, because I can see the development and I can see how its affected me. It motivates me to continue doing those things.

JB: I believe the thing that shocked me was how quickly I forgot about previous experiences. You think, Oh, Im going to remember this, and then you do not. Journaling assists me with believing about those moments when I pressed myself out of my comfort zone, and remembering what that was like.

WEAPON OF CHOICE: PEN OR PENCIL?

MTDWB: Did you use pen or pencil when you journaled?

JB: I have a gel pen, and I keep it embeded the spirals of the journal. I have so lots of gel pens, its ridiculous.

STORYTELLING: WRITING TO CONNECT.

Bowser records an episode of her podcast in her closet– a common practice amongst podcasters. Constantly searching for ways to connect to her audience, she has actually found that informing stories of her outdoor experiences has actually been the most effective.

MTDWB: Did journaling rollover into any other aspects of your life?

The very best method to connect with people is to inform your story. Journaling is simply another kind of storytelling.

JB: I believe when youre a content developer like I am, you have to discover ways to link with your audience. The finest way to link with people is to tell your story, and to inform it in a way that individuals can imagine themselves in your location. For me, journaling is just another kind of storytelling, and likewise at the same time encouraging individuals to get out and create their own experience.

ON HER JOURNAL.

MTDWB: Was there a specific brand or type of journal you utilized or preferred? Why?

JOURNAL ROUTINE.

JB: I use the very same journal that you discover in all the state park cabins. Its the very same standard journal in all the cabins. I was going to Natural Tunnel State Park in October 2019, and it was my very first time at that park. I chose up the cabin journal that specific day and I recognized that there was an introductory welcome message from Craig Seaver, who was the director of Virginia State Parks when the journal was published. I had met Craig recently and I truly connected with his message in the journal because I had actually just met him at the Virginia Association for Parks conference and actually liked him. I wished to let him know that I had actually read his message, so I connected to him on social networks, and it ends up that Natural Tunnel was the park where Craig was the park manager prior to he became director of the entire system, so he had a personal connection with Natural Tunnel. I informed him I would really like to have one of these journals, and asked where I might get one. He had a ranger show up at my cabin and deliver me my own journal. I was delighted. I was so excited to start using it. It made me feel so unique. The journal itself has meaning to me, since the individual who provided it to me is somebody I admire. Every time I pull it out, its a tip of Craig. Its likewise a reminder of my advocacy with VAFP. Its also a reminder to take a few minutes out of my experience and document what my experience has actually resembled.

Bowser shows the state parks journal where she tape-records her various experiences, adventures, and adventures at state parks across Virginia.

MTDWB: Was there a specific way you formatted your entries?

JB: The journal asks what dates you were there, what the weather resembled, what activities you did, what wildlife you sighted, who you met, who was with you. Thats the front page, and after that the back page is blank lined paper for notes.

MTDWB: How frequently and when did you journal?

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A possible future guest on the podcast is writing a memoir about losing her brother, and she states the reason she began journaling was since when her bro passed away, somebody purchased her a journal and motivated her to write letters to her sibling. I can see where journaling would have an effect.

Author Bio.

Jessica Bowser is the creator and host of Virginia Outdoor Adventures Podcast, which showcases the variety and appeal of our state by Virginians who have a strong connection with the outdoors. Through conversations with visitors, Jessica has developed a guide to outside leisure and provides recommendations to help listeners with planning their own experiences close to house. Jessica delights in recording her adventures in photos while she is treking, cycling, climbing, kayaking, birding, and camping throughout Virginia. Virginia Outdoor Adventures Podcast is offered on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and anywhere you listen to podcasts. For outside travel ideas and recommendations, or to follow Jessicas adventures, see www.VirginiaOutdoorAdventures.com, or follow the show on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

https://amandasuecreasey.com/.

JB: I always do it at the end of my visit, because I desire to make sure that the entry records my whole see. Sometimes I will start it throughout the check out, especially for wildlife sightings, so I do not forget anything. I will begin to fill it out, however I do not usually do the blank back page up until the last night.

In 2019, when then-state parks director Craig Seaver gifted her with a state parks journal while she was visiting Natural Tunnel State Park, she began journaling about the experience. When you leaf through those journals, you find people have actually had extremely various experiences, even though they are all remaining in the same place and the exact same activities are offered to everyone; everybody makes it uniquely their own. Those journals trigger you to enter a lot of various info, and so when I do go back and read it, I can think about things that were really specific to that journey that I probably would have otherwise forgotten.

© Amanda Sue Creasey.

MTDWB: May is Mental Health Month. Can you speak a little bit to the role the outdoors has on mental health? Can you speak a little bit about the function journaling has on psychological health?

You have both of those elements working for you at same time when you combine journaling and the outdoors. You have the experience of the outdoors, and the journal to help you show on it, and be more present. It is a double whammy. The journal strengthens the effect that the outdoors has on psychological health and health. It is two sides of the very same coin.

JB: There has been research study out on the advantage of the outdoors on mental health for a long, long time, but I dont believe it has gotten as much attention as it has actually gotten within the last year. I hope that this experience will lead to people connecting to the outdoors long-term. I am truly excited other individuals are coming around to have that experience.

JB: I use the very same journal that you find in all the state park cabins. I picked up the cabin journal that specific day and I understood that there was an initial welcome message from Craig Seaver, who was the director of Virginia State Parks when the journal was released.

When you combine journaling and the outdoors, you have the experience of the outdoors, and the journal to help you reflect on it. The journal enhances the impact that the outdoors has on mental health and health.

JOURNALING, NATURE, AND MENTAL HEALTH.

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