A Note From Brenda
In 2008 I lost my husband to a 4 month battle with a rare cancer. He was 36. I was 24. I was launched into the world of widowhood. I couldn’t breathe. For months we had been in a cocoon of false safety in the hospital. His many procedures and near-death experiences developed in me anxiety attacks.
Two weeks after his death I stumbled out of my car and onto the rocky path at Money Rocks County Park in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My nerves were frayed. I felt the weight of losing my husband of 1.5 years and it was crushing me. After ten steps I began to feel my lungs clear, my hardened heart soften, and my eyes tear. I was finding my breath. I have rarely left the trail since that moment.
I have spent the past 9 years seeking out nature like an addictive drug. In and out of therapy, grief groups, widow camps, antidepressants, and staying as busy as I could, nothing has calmed me or helped me find solace like nature has. First my escape, now my anecdote. And it’s not just me. The more people I’ve met along this grief journey the more I realize the intense healing impact that nature has on our mental health.
In interviews with mental health professionals, naturalists, professors, and sustainability experts I have learned how nature is prescribed to all kinds of patients ranging from a child with a mental disability to an elderly man with Parkinson’s. When talking about the healing powers of nature with those who have experienced vast mental health improvements from being in nature, I also came to witness how these same people feel a commitment to nature through conservation and acts of sustainability. Just like I do.
I give workshops on the topic of ‘Healing through Nature and Travel’, ‘Nature’s Mindful Healing’, and ‘Recreation and Relaxation in the Riverlands’ in order to share how nature and travel has positively impacted my grief as well as others’ and inspired our commitment to conservation. It is important to protect our natural areas so they can be a safe haven for those experiencing mental illness. In addition, I offer a ‘Traveling Solo’ workshop to groups interested in learning safe ways to adventure on their own and suggestions on where to travel. For the travel industry I offer a workshop titled ‘Welcoming the Solo Traveler’ to teach folks in the travel industry how to best welcome travelers who are visiting places on their own.
Healing through nature and travel spreads far beyond my own personal experience and may help others. I have shared my courses internationally through Soaring Spirits International, Millersville University, New Jersey Tourism Industry Association, Pennsylvania Therapeutic Recreation Institute, Hospice & Community Care, Masonic Villages, Traditions of America, Highmark Caring Place, Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area, and Lancaster County Parks.
To receive more information, to register for any of these events, or to have Brenda speak at your function, please email Brenda at BrendaLeeFree@gmail.com
**All speaking engagements are based on personal experience and not on licensed recommendations. If you believe you are dealing with depression you should seek advice from a licensed counselor or physician.**
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Feedback from Brenda’s Workshops:
“Brenda is an inspiration to anyone who is struggling after a significant loss. She helps bereaved realize that although it is different, life will be good again after a loss.” – Patti Anewalt – Director of Pathways Center for Grief and Loss Hospice & Community Care
“Brenda Sieglitz provided a wonderful program for the residents of Masonic Village. She is not a typical presenter but rather she gets the audience involved on a very personal and spiritual level. Her insights into the healing power of nature, as well as her extensive knowledge of local, regional and national parks, makes her a leader in naturalist field.” – Bianca Hemsch – Masonic Villages
“Brenda’s passion and dedication to lifelong learning are infectious. She has a way of making you feel accepted and valued just as you are, while also challenging you to dig deeper, do more, and take risks. I admire Brenda’s ability to be prepared and organized, but also allow room for flexibility in the moment to ensure her audience’s needs are met. She truly cares about providing quality programs and building relationships. ” – Myka Piatt – Training & Curriculum Development Temple University Harrisburg
“Great travel tips”
“Awesome! Very helpful! Such a passionate speaker!”
“Lovely speaking voice. Thanks for sharing your story.”
“Terrific. So informative.”
“Brenda’s story was informative and emotional. I am in LTC (long term care) so some / many of the adventure sights would be hard (for residents) but good for me personally!”