We all remember the timeline here in Ventura County.  Mid-March of 2020, the emergency stay-at-home order went into effect.  Since schools, businesses, shopping malls, movie theaters (and pretty much everything) was closed, many people found the only open place was nature. 

Too Crowded

The hiking trails and beaches were suddenly crowded. At first it seemed that our great outdoors would be a saving grace for our sanity.  Outside became a place for families to retreat to instead of entertaining toddlers and teenagers with Netflix binging. Then, shortly after the statewide closures, OUTSIDE was closed.  The Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), following the lead of Los Angeles County, announced on their Facebook page that more people were using the trails “than on a typical holiday weekend”, and the trails were closed until further notice.

Nature is Closed

The closure of our outdoor spaces was added to the list of other shocking and confusing things (like the toilet paper shortage) that we all experienced during the pandemic. Although in the scheme of things this time period ended up being relatively short, this closure affected our family dramatically.

We have been raising our three kids in Ventura County for the past 17 years. I have witnessed the magic of seeing my children as toddlers run to the sand at the beach, exploring Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area, and discovering wildlife on one of our beautiful hiking trails. I have seen my kids’ love for the outdoors growing when they eagerly ask “when are we going camping again?”.  I was worried when outside was closed. I thought of an apocalyptic scene where people never went outside and had those special UV lights to get them through their day. We live in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, but we were all stuck inside.  We all became a bit claustrophobic.

Creating Resilience

At first, I was angry. I was missing the bloom of wildflowers, the yips of the newborn coyotes and the green spring growth that I look forward to every year.  But then I realized that our wide open spaces belong to everyone.  I began to see how wonderful that so many people quickly turned to our gorgeous outdoor surroundings for solace.  People that normally spent their weekends in shopping malls or movie theaters found that just around the corner was a hiking trail or park that could be enjoyed.  I began to think that maybe the pandemic would show us all how much we all could enjoy our natural environment, especially our local open spaces.

With trails closed, we were back to puzzles, binging more shows, figuring out distance learning and working, and finding new activities to entertain us.  As a mom, I had to dig deep to learn what my role was during this first phase of the shut downs.  Could I teach my kids what resilience looks like?  I felt tapped out, especially since I was losing sleep and wasn’t able to enjoy my daily trail time.  We tried to find something for our family to do. 

So, with masks on and socially distant space, during the early summer of 2020, our teenage boys took up surfing for the first time.  After 15 & 13 years of living in Ventura County, my boys found a love for the sport.  Now instead of watching toddlers race to dip their toes into the frigid Pacific Ocean, I am watching teenagers check the surf and paddle out to meet the waves.  The boys’ favorite beginner spot was Mondos Beach, and now they are learning about Ventura Point and C Street surfing.  Is that what resilience looks like?  I’m not sure I feel all that resilient during these ups and downs, but I am forever thankful for our lovely Ventura County.  It seems that our lessons learned during this past year were less about textbooks and classrooms, but more about finding new ways to get out to enjoy the outdoors (including the premium subscription to the Surfline app).

Nature is for Everyone

Now that our wide open spaces remain open, I will never take them for granted. Before we get back to “normal” this fall, I am reminded that our trails, beaches and parks are there for everyone to enjoy.

I am thankful for these WIDE OPEN SPACES!

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Sara is a native of Arizona, but after 20 years of living in Southern California she and her family proudly call Ventura County home. Living in the pines of Northern Arizona for many years, Sara developed a passion for fitness and the outdoors. She shares this love with her husband of 20 years, Jarod. With a Masters Degree in Exercise Physiology, Sara is also passionate about creating a healthy lifestyle including a healthy mind, body and spirit. What started 14 years ago as a whole family health transformation due to her son's food allergies, has blossomed into a career of helping others. As a Health Coach, she has worn many hats to help others achieve their goals, from leading running groups, teaching fitness classes and working one-on-one with individuals. She and Jarod now have three children, ages 16, 14 (the boys) and 11 (her girl). They are all very outdoorsy, and can be found camping, hiking, biking, snowboarding, surfing and spending time in their backyard. Her best day consists of hiking or biking in the Santa Monica Mountains, spending time with her family, including her little fluffy dog, Roxy. A fun fact about Sara: her sport growing up was Synchronized Swimming!

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