Chicago Sun-Times
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Head clearing: Mental illness and the outdoors

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The outdoors is a place big enough for many things, most important for me is finding a small niche of calmness.

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Such as this scene after a flood with waterfalls cascading down inside Metthiessen State Park. A sight which caused then fisheries chief for Illinois Mike Conlin to whisper it was like being in a church.

To me that's the single most important point of being in the outdoors, or in my case doing the outdoors--finding and celebrating those places.

Since my mom died more than three years ago, I have been trying to figure a way to write about the experience of growing up in a family impacted greatly by her path to living with mental illness.

On Sunday, I explained, as well as I can, how that led me to where I am now in my Sunday outdoors column in the Sun-Times.

May it help some others.

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2 Comments

Dale,
First, sorry to hear of your mother's problems. May God Bless her now.
I'm writing this as I too was introduced to the outdoors because of a family members problems. My father was an awful man, constantly screaming or beating on me. Yet, every Sunday my mother would pack me in the car and off we would go to some outdoor destination. I will always remember the serenity of being in the "wild". Mom and I would go to a nearby river or state park and sit in the outdoors just watching the wonders of it go by. Many an afternoon we would just sit and watch beavers build their "huts"/dams. Or sit and see all different types of wildlife running in the distance. There was always a certain calmness, almost surreal, and of course an undeniable beauty to it all. It would just wash away all those horrible thoughts and images that would otherwise be running through my mind.
THE OUTDOORS IS THE BEST TRANQUILIZER THAT I HAVE EVER "TAKEN". The great outdoors has a way to make all your problems seem to melt away if for nothing more than an afternoon!
God bless the adult that takes the time to show an “inner city” kid what this wonderful world has to offer!
BTW: I turned out to be an avid fisherman and camper, loving a good hike and nothing more than to sit at a campsite and simply enjoy the sounds of nature all around me. I have been blessed enough to be able to show some of my friends children (none of my own) the same great outdoors that I was lucky enough to get to know!

Church of the Holy Fish.
I've been talking about it for years.
Services held every Sunday at sunrise on flowing water somewhere. There are no buildings that can compare to the things I've seen and the peace that I've found.
The God I worship has no use for man made structures.
And, having grown up as that inner city kid . . . what Carl said.

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This page contains a single entry by Dale Bowman published on October 5, 2009 8:57 AM.

Co-angler Chwierut takes 2nd in FLW walleye championship was the previous entry in this blog.

Illinois bowhunting: 4 opening days for deer up is the next entry in this blog.

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