Changes Joy Month: Kwesia (City Girl In Nature)
The audio version of this episode is available here.
Annie [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to Changes! I am Annie Macmanus, delighted to have you with us for this final week of Joy January. It's been really, really amazing actually this month. We've covered music, faith, family and mindset with Femi Koleoso from the jazz group, Ezra Collective. We've heard from happiness expert and author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, who discussed the very small things we can do to cultivate more joy in our daily lives. And spoiler, this does not include a gratitude diary. There were some really fascinating suggestions, I learned a lot. And then last week we had poet and author Michael Rosen, who after losing his son Eddie aged 18 and experiencing near-death himself, talked beautifully about the duality of joy and grief and how to find joy after tragedy. We looked at play, absurdity, curiosity and the power of writing and of course, Michael recited a poem as well. Had to be done. If you missed any of those episodes, please do go back and listen. And thank you to any of you who sent us messages and emails. Got some gorgeous messages from you. Hello to Ruth Bradley who got in touch about the Michael Rosen episode saying, 'the interview was so helpful and awesome and inspiring. I'm going to have a proper cry now, as all the tears need to come out. In a good way'. And hello to Rose Reeves, who also described a Michael Rosen episode as 'brilliantly eloquent, heartbreaking, joyous. I can't stop thinking about it. It really cut through the noise of the never ending media we find ourselves on the end of these days'. Una got in touch to say 'I love Changes, I look forward to it every week and I've especially loved Joy January. I think everyone finds January a bit hard, but I've especially found it hard this year as my mom passed away last August and going into a new year without her was tough going. Listening to these episodes has prompted me each week to seek out the joy in the little things, and to hold on to those and remind myself that she wouldn't want me to stay sad. As a mom myself, I can recognise how hard she worked to make sure joy was heaped upon us, so I'm trying every day to let that joy seep in'. Una, I send you all my love and thank you so much for getting in touch. So last but not least in our Joy January mini series, we have a really inspiring- and just the sweetest guest I think, her name is Kwesia, also known online as City Girl In Nature. Kwesia grew up on an estate in Deptford in south east London and dealt with a lot of violence and trauma, which you'll hear about, and after a life changing expedition to the Amazon, she connected with nature in a way that sparked joy and transformed her perspective on life. Kwesia is now an award winning host of the birdwatching podcast, Get Birding. It's such a gorgeous listen! And with her initiative City Girl In Nature, she now likes to bring young children from the inner city out into the wild on expeditions. And this is just the beginning for her. Kwesia, welcome to Changes. Let's begin with what is joy to you?
Kwesia [00:03:11] So joy for me isn't just happiness. Joy is the journey. That continued journey and that continued process of life in itself, I guess, and whatever life brings. Life is always up and down just like our heartbeat, so if we're not going up and down, how are we actually- actually here and being present, you know? We can't be. So without joy, there's no sadness. And without sadness, there's no joy.
Annie [00:03:38] Brilliant. What does your life look like now? What- what do you do and you're a new mom, what are you working on? What's life look like for you?
Kwesia [00:03:46] I guess life right now is very exciting because it's changing a lot. When you have a child, especially- in that first year as well, the amount of changes that are happening. I guess that closely then links into my everyday work too with young people and being out in nature, because of course nature always changes too. Most of my life is full of changes and I guess- if I'm honest too, I wasn't always the best with change but now at the point I am now in life, I really embrace change.
Annie [00:04:23] So, you touch on changes that maybe weren't so positive in your life and I think that's one thing we've learned from doing this is that there's change that happens to you that kind of pulls the rug, and then there's change that you can embrace and lean into, and a lot of the change that happens to you happens when you're a kid because you have no control of your life, you know, it's other people in charge. So you had a fair share of that?
Kwesia [00:04:47] Yeah, definitely. I really like how you phrased that too. A lot of people don't ask people or say 'what's happened TO you?', most people say 'what's wrong with you?', you know. And I really think-
Annie [00:04:59] Yeah, yeah.
Kwesia [00:05:00] That's a really good place to start at. And for me, I guess growing up I faced a numerous amount of things. Growing up, Deptford, there was quite a lot of poverty and hardship and inequalities that the community here faced, whether that be from the police, whether that be from government level. And even in the school system too, there was quite a lot of things that we- we, including myself faced. But then I also had- I was a young carer for my grandmother who had Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's and a few other long term conditions, and I became her carer at around ten years old, helping my mum out. And I lost her, which then two years later, I lost my aunty to what is seen as an honour killing. And that was my uncle that murdered my aunty and a few of my cousins got really injured and hurt in, in a house fire. One of my cousins sustained 80% burns-
Annie [00:05:58] Under her breathe oh my-
Kwesia [00:05:58] And at the time, so I would have been in year ten, which is about 15, and my cousin was 16, the one that actually got really burned too. And then two years after that is when my friend was murdered by someone who- I know someone that was involved in his murder too, through knife crime, which of course for me is a big issue within my community and especially that there's not much support given when any of these type of trauma happens. And I guess that was the turning point for me with the honour killing happening, losing my grandmother, my friend being stabbed was like really, really, really impactful because I guess the scale of it. I spoke at his funeral, for instance, and there was like over 500 people at that funeral, mainly young people. And looking out at that, being at the front of the church is like really impactful because we're all dealing with something and no one has the tools to deal with that trauma. And as you say, it's like it's happened to you. Knife crime is a terrible thing, of course, but most of us don't understand the root of it, but I personally think it's poverty. That was impactful on me and in turn really affected my mental wellbeing. I actually began misusing cannabis, and my family was worried about me because I started using that as a way to cope with some of the things that I was struggling with. And it did actually have an effect on me where I was quite angry because I didn't know how to process my emotions at all. So it came out in anger, and I guess I had a family breakdown within my own family. My families lived separate at the time, so I didn't- I couldn't live with either of them, so I had to be sofa surfing to different friends' house and then lived in hostels for two and a half years. And then, yeah, in that process is when I came across the opportunity to go to the Amazon, but thats a whole different- laughs.
Annie [00:08:12] I mean trips on words so you kind of got three different hits of loss throughout your teens, which is already a really turbulent time. What was happening in your life when you were in the hostels? Did you feel like you were supported in any way in terms of community or anything like that?
Kwesia [00:08:31] Being in a hostel surrounded by 20 other females with four bathrooms and one shower room and one kitchen, was quite- quite an interesting laughs experience for me. The staff were there to support, but I guess being young, you never really turn to adults. It's mainly your peers or people that you err-
Annie [00:08:55] Yeah.
Kwesia [00:08:55] Look up to you, I guess. And these people were- their purpose was to help and they did help with housing and making sure you're, you know, sticking to your kind of, erm road to independence. But I guess there wasn't necessarily support in elements that probably most of us needed to why a lot of things were happening in the hostel. Being all females, it's quite a lot of emotions and monthly cycles etc.. so laughs yeah, it was, it was, it was quite err yeah, transformative because I'd never experienced nothing like it before. I was studying sports at the time, and also working as a football coach, whilst also living with a burden, I guess, of those traumatic events that had happened to me. And also, one of the things I guess I should mention is that I was actually also a key person that a lot of people turned to. So that also made things a bit more challenging, I guess, because, I was then also dealing with so many other people's problems too, and trying to help them find solutions and kind of in a way suppressing my own. It is quite, quite a erm, transitional period though as well.
[00:10:18] Short musical interlude
Annie [00:10:28] So tell me then about how you go from living in a hostel, you know, going to college, going to work, football coaching, to then being laughing in the Peruvian jungle. It's such an extreme change.
Kwesia [00:10:43] Honestly speaking, and it is my favourite word of recent since I learned it, it's definitely serendipity, in terms of-
Annie [00:10:49] Ahhh!
Kwesia [00:10:49] In terms of, I literally was working on a project called Black Minds Matter.
Annie [00:10:57] Right, what was that?
Kwesia [00:10:57] So Black Minds Matter is a project based in Wandsworth, and it was a project to build social change leaders, but also provide alternative therapies to young people that are struggling. Then I heard about this opportunity, bearing in mind at the time when I was doing that work I was actually 19. I guess my life experiences and where I was at was, I was doing a lot of peer to peer support. Whilst I was working on that project this guy from the British Explorer Society - Matt, never forget his name, he came in and he was presenting this opportunity, did a bit of a presentation, there was about 3 or 4 people and for me, I was firstly shocked that this opportunity was in my face laughs, but I was also in a way- felt like it didn't connect with me and I didn't belong. I didn't feel like it was something that was meant for me. In the end, all the other people that were there, for whatever reason, didn't take up the opportunity. In fact, one of the people, he actually, that same summer I went to the Amazon, he got shot. He didn't die, thankfully-
Annie [00:12:14] Jesus.
Kwesia [00:12:14] But he got shot. Laughing so like all these extreme things are always happening, but I, yeah, that's how I came across the opportunity essentially, yeah.
Annie [00:12:23] So you were there in the capacity of working, helping other kids?
Kwesia [00:12:27] Mhmm. Yeah.
Annie [00:12:27] So that was your job? Yeah, okay. So it's important to say that. So you were kind of doing- putting a lot of your energy and time into younger kids, but hadn't really had the chance of the headspace at the time to figure out your own stuff.
Kwesia [00:12:39] Yeah, definitely. I was slowly starting to, through the fact that I was around alternative therapies that I personally also really enjoyed. It was great, you know, working with those young people but I slowly started seeing how I could help myself too, just by doing the work of helping others.
Annie [00:13:01] Okay, so you went for the thing. Can you remember, like, what went through your head when you were like, I'll just give this a go?
Kwesia [00:13:08] I knew it wouldn't come around again, so I, I went through the process. Thankfully for me, the head of the youth club, she found a sponsor for me and I was- they fully paid for me to go and everything that I needed. And before actually going to the Amazon, kind of camped for two days. So it was two days of first time camping. First time being around so many people that felt like wasn't from the same background for me. Maybe because they seemed very experienced with camping, first of all. I was a bit overwhelmed and then after that two week- two day sorry, experience, I kind of doubted going but I guess something within me still pushed me to go. And that next stop was Heathrow Airport.
Annie [00:14:04] Who were the people that you were with on this Amazon trip?
Kwesia [00:14:08] Young people but from all over the UK. I guess for me the, err there was only probably two other brown people, which was quite extreme for me cause I'd never really experienced that. Growing up in Deptford for instance, I was always around like black and brown people. I never really felt like the minority to that extent. And being in a remote place laughs with no phone, I guess that in itself was quite transformative. Just what I've said, let alone the nature element. That element of it, laughing of that was like, quite impactful too.
Annie [00:14:48] Well, let's stay on that for a second before we get to the actual nature of it. So I suppose, how did being around those people who were all so different from you, or maybe they weren't different from you but different on paper, like from different places and different backgrounds and different ethnicities and religions or whatever, how did that change your outlook on the world, I suppose, and on yourself?
Kwesia [00:15:10] So funny enough, most of them did kind of have general experience of camping. But what I noticed, just on the three days going into the jungle, my perception was that these people, most of them, know more than me. I don't know why I thought that, but I was like they know more than me, you know, they're more experienced than me. They know what they're doing, essentially. That was what was going on in my head, how I was feeling. But I was very much interested to understand and see how I'm going to survive with these strangers, laughs essentially. And in fact, by the time we got to the jungle, we were late. So, we arrived in the dark.
Annie [00:15:57] Wow.
Kwesia [00:15:58] So that in itself was quite a lot because we- our first introduction was in the dark, complete sounds. So that was a the first thing that kind of hit me as well. Non-stop sound. So going into the jungle, one of the things that was shocking me, the amount of trees I was just seeing. Like for like nine hours straight, just trees. And I was just like, wow laughs. Getting there at night time now, having to put our head torches on, put our tents up, being put into that situation and then seeing how we came together, I would say within the first week, all the stuff I thought I believed changed.
Annie [00:16:40] How?
Kwesia [00:16:41] Because the conversations and interactions we were having every single day was very real and raw, and the environment we was in was enabling this within us all. It was like a sense of freedom for everyone, like no one had anything that was in a way tangible to make us feel like what I feel now. A lot of us hide behind, you know, a lot of these social concepts and things and none of that exist in that space. So all those beliefs went out the window. And I realised that, wow, we had to also talk about our toilet, you know, what's going on in the toilet for all of us because we didn't want to catch D and V, which is diarrhoea- laughing diarrhoea and vomiting.
Annie [00:17:40] Oh yeah!
Kwesia [00:17:40] So we had to openly speak about things that you wouldn't be doing with, you know, a bunch of people you just met for a week. But it was something that we had to do to look out for each other. Every day we shared responsibilities and also, so in between we went on tours, as they call it, which was three days away from base camp in our little groups.
Annie [00:18:03] Mmhmm.
Kwesia [00:18:03] So then we had to also, whilst we was away from base camp, also look out for each other. You know, there's a lot of things going on in the jungle, including snakes, including things you can trip on, and also sweat bees which funny enough, became a bit of a problem for some people. So like there was loads-
Annie [00:18:20] What the hell is a sweat bee?!
Kwesia [00:18:23] Laughs so it's a bee that is attracted to sweat and-.
Annie [00:18:26] Ohhh wow.
Kwesia [00:18:27] So like, it got caught in some people's hair for instance. So there was like always something that you wasn't necessarily expecting, but it was like you came together and it was like your family, you know, like, because we all depended on each other and we all, you know, was working together to erm, survive.
Annie [00:18:47] In those scenarios, you end up inadvertently learning about yourself because everyone plays a role. Somehow they kind of naturally adapt into being like, a helper or a nurturer or a leader or a, you know, did you figure out who you were in that context?
Kwesia [00:19:03] 100%. And that was one of my biggest takeaways immediately. So one day we was out on one of our tours and we had like, kind of like a guide that would go with us just because he knew the jungle best, he was a local. So he would come out with us and let's say on day one, he showed us- like we just went in direction and he showed us that way kind of thing, how to navigate it. Because we wasn't using maps, erm and laughs.
Annie [00:19:32] Laughing yeah, course.
Kwesia [00:19:32] And err so, then the second day was like our task to try to find that place again, bearing in mind it's the rainforest so- and when we're on our tours, we got our 65 litre backpacks on and our tents.
Annie [00:19:51] Yeah, yeah.
Kwesia [00:19:51] And all our cooking gear and stuff so, were walking around trying to find this place. Slowly, people start, you know, giving up a bit, you know, 'I'm hungry', 'can we sit down for a bit?' and like, everyone slowly starts to and it rubs off on me a bit, and then I start saying it. But then the leader, one of the leaders pulled me to the side and just kind of says, you're a bit of a leader in this group, I'd try to encourage them. And then when she said that to me, something sunk in within me that I am actually quite influential amongst everyone here. And then I switched my attitude and I said, guys, come on, we can do it. You know, like we're not far off and blah blah, blah, blah. And in fact, everyone's motivation changed and slowly like, and I was like, wow like I had never seen it in that form before, that leadership or that kind of being able to, you know, encourage others or what was said about me on that expedition, my emotional intelligence which I didn't really- wasn't aware of. At the end, when we actually got there and everyone was happy, eating our sandwiches and you know, we was like sitting at like a riverbank. So like, pink dolphins went by and local fishermen and stuff-
Annie [00:21:13] Wow!
Kwesia [00:21:13] So we was like so happy that we actually got there in the end. And for me, that was a big teaching- err lesson, not just because of how that change happened but there was something about appreciating the journey over the destination. And that was like one of the highlights of the trip. I'd say that was like in about week two. Yeah, that just changed a lot of things too. The way we interacted with each other, as you say, the more I started understanding about my life experiences and, you know, that's where I guess I started to then actually change a lot of the forces- thought processes I had before about my life experiences and myself, but in fact embrace it and see the, the beauty in it, you know, because just that small experience changed a lot. And these were people that I felt didn't have the same background to me, and I was able to have that affect on them, which I was a football coach, I'm doing it in some sort of way back home but I never really saw it in that way, in that circumstance, in that, you know, situation. Because in school and stuff as well, for like a lot of people like me you're always told like, oh yeah, you're not going to do anything and whatever. So all these kind of like labels that are like pushed onto me and a lot of people. Then I started realising, no in fact these are my natural gifts, they're not like bad and it just changed a lot for me and then I started to I guess, that's where I started feeling that the environment and nature and everything that was happening was like, so healing and immersive that it just was a shifting my life, but at the time, honestly speaking, I couldn't tell you that. I just felt different. I didn't have the words for it, and even I didn't have words for it for like over a year after I came back.
[00:23:11] Short musical interlude
Annie [00:23:22] When you did come back after that year, what was it that you found the words for? Like what was it that you were able to kind of process and learn?
Kwesia [00:23:30] So, although I didn't bring a phone along with me, I did bring a GoPro.
Annie [00:23:35] Yeah, I watched a video.
Kwesia [00:23:37] Yeah. So that was one of the best decisions I guess I did, and being able to capture it I guess enabled me to relive it. In a way, the filming element helped me also understand that natural gift I had too, which I didn't see before. The difference I felt is that I need to make an impact more. So I still continued Black Minds Matter but then I then started to, instead of being a football coach, I wasn't just a football coach, I was a part of London Football Association's youth council.
Annie [00:24:11] Wow.
Kwesia [00:24:11] So helping make decisions for grassroots football, because I saw- being impacted on as a female, how you know, female opportunities was different and I wanted to help change that. But also people that don't make it as a footballer and that impact on their mental health.
Annie [00:24:25] Yeah, yeah.
Kwesia [00:24:26] So knew a lot around that stuff, I wanted to change that. So anything I kind of had involvement in, I wanted to make a difference, and that was the main difference I saw but then British Explorer Society didn't know about my background properly. So when I was on expedition, I spoke a lot with the adults because I guess I felt more like I could connect with them, and I shared my story with them a bit, in pieces, bits and pieces here and there.
Annie [00:24:56] Yeah.
Kwesia [00:24:56] And funny enough, the chief leader, so back to the emotional intelligence thing, he had then given that feedback to them and I received the award for that, actually, when I returned back from the Amazon, which we went to Buckingham Palace for Duke Explorers Award.
Annie [00:25:14] Wow.
Kwesia [00:25:15] Yeah. And I guess by then we're still in contact with British Explorer Society, they then wanted me to share my story, you know. That's how it started a bit for me, sharing my story. Then I was invited in 2020 to Adventure Mind conference. That's where it clicks for me about my whole experience. It was like an 'ah ha' moment, I was like, I've experienced this but how can it be relatable to people like me? How will it connect with them? How can they feel this too? And then my first thing was YouTube because when I returned back, I had that footage and I put that video up straight away.
Annie [00:26:02] Yeah, we'll link to it. We'll link to it in the show notes for anyone who wants to watch it.
Kwesia [00:26:06] But that's when- I just put on there, I didn't really have a plan that I was going to-
Annie [00:26:11] Yeah, yeah.
Kwesia [00:26:11] You know, go back to making videos or anything but then that 'ah ha' moment in 2020, I then was like, wow like I need to do something more. So that's where I then had interviews with people, you know, speaking about ways that they connect with nature, but also showing the ways that I was starting to connect with nature and I guess it was my David Attenborough version- my version of David Attenborough but for my community, because I started- the shots were just, not just about nature but what trainers am I wearing?
Annie [00:26:44] Yeah laughs.
Kwesia [00:26:45] And what am I wearing? Like, what clothes am I wearing? And sometimes there's cutaways and someone's watch is there. And people don't under- people that don't understand are like, really? But people that are- that I'm reaching are like, ahh wow! Jordans!
Annie [00:27:03] Yeah, so it is possible to talk about Jordan's and peregrine falcons in one video and that- yeah, so it's like- it's like entry points for people, like how to get people like, stay interested and yeah.
Kwesia [00:27:15] Literally, and just like my whole first series was literally people I knew's music was involved too. So there's like a whole variety of music, music that laughing usually is not associated with nature documentaries.
Annie [00:27:34] Yeah! Like when you do watch the series, the music really, it's such a big, powerful part of it. How have you seen nature and an awareness of nature change people, your peers?
Kwesia [00:27:45] It really is impactful. The camp I ran this summer, first camp, most of those young people had never camped before.
Annie [00:27:54] Yeah.
Kwesia [00:27:55] But one of the things I already knew throughhaving conversations with young people was camping food doesn't speak to them. I try to make it the best possible experience for them, so in fact, I did have like rice and peas with plantain and chicken for them. Still cooked on a wood fire! But I wanted these things not to affect their camping experience and then when I saw that, you know, that helped them really connect with the nature side of things and nature connection side of things, rather than worrying about being hungry and those things.
Annie [00:28:33] Yeah, yeah, of course. Yeah.
Kwesia [00:28:34] They were really homing in more on first time bird watching and using the binoculars and, you know, first time actually being present. First time without their phones for a lot of them! First time for some- one in particular, being away from her mum in 13 years for more than one night.
Annie [00:29:00] Wowww.
Kwesia [00:29:00] That experience of being submerged in the new forest, when they came back and the feedback I was getting from their parents is like, wow, you know, they want to do more of this. One boy in particular, he said to me 'Kwesia, is there nature stuff in London?!' laughs I was like, yeah of course there is. You know, there's parks and gardens. You can do all the stuff that we've done locally, too. And one of the beautiful things about when we was facilitating the camp is that we always made it relatable to what they can find on their doorsteps and at home.
Annie [00:29:37] Yeah, yeah.
Kwesia [00:29:37] And I guess that's, I guess it was the initial connection they then had in there, but then continuing that. Also sometimes it's not about, oh doing it now. I always say that as well to young people. It's not about oh you've done this camping experience so now when you go back always spend time in the park and whatever. But I say maybe in like five years time, ten years, you guys might want to use these skills again. Like us all, sometimes the things we learn aren't relevant right then, but later on comes back and in a way can save us from some of the things that we're going through and stuff. I personally saw nature as a tool, but then seeing young people then seeing that this- they, they were like homing into certain things that they found connected with them. I then started hearing different conversations, you know, like it was shifting mindsets too, people were like saying, oh yeah, I really connect with water actually, I like water. I actually like being near the Thames or I like hearing water, I like when it rains. And I started hearing like different conversations. And that's when I really knew that this was impacting, not just like their experience, but the way they were thinking about things that I guess before they might not have been able to talk about.
Annie [00:30:55] So what you're really doing is you're helping kids actually access and activate their senses. And in the episode that we did at the start of this month, we spoke to someone who's written loads of books on happiness and joy and all of that and one thing she kept coming back to was senses, and being aware of your senses and to smell and touch and sight and everything, just really being able to like, tune into them. And that's what nature kind of affords you to do isn't it? It kind of forces you to really look and really listen and feel things and helps you feel at your most alive, doesn't it?
Kwesia [00:31:31] 100%.
Annie [00:31:33] So let me ask you, Kwesia, how has nature and the kind of new discovery and awareness of nature changed you?
Kwesia [00:31:44] I guess for me, discovering how important to have a relationship with nature is, has really given me the opportunity to live a life of what I feel is abundant. Because, even if I'm experiencing sadness, even if I'm experiencing joy, I know that by connecting with our natural world in whatever form that is, maybe just being barefoot, maybe it's actually birdwatching, whatever it is I know that this will always then be able to ground me and give me perspective and allow me the space to also, you know, just be whatever's happening in that present moment. I guess it's just changed my whole thought process, changed how I look at life and the experiences I've had. The way I look at even joy. If I did- if I didn't have that experience with nature, that transformative kind of thing of going to the Amazon, I don't know if I would be here right now in terms of being able to say to you what I said to you in the beginning, in terms of there's no sadness without joy and no joy without sadness, because I feel like nature has really facilitated something really special, and I see that as healing.
[00:33:22] Short musical interlude
Annie [00:33:33] What's apparent when I hear your story is the kind of cyclical nature of you helping people and then going to the Amazon and having that one very small exchange from that leader informing you of who you are. Obviously you had- you had the knowledge deep down, but sometimes you need to be told by someone and then you have a whole new perspective on yourself, and then you were able to kind of lead in that scenario and be inspired to carry on leading and, and helping people to learn when you came home. What change would you still like to make or see, moving forwards in your life?
Kwesia [00:34:12] The one thing I'd say that I'd definitely like to continue to help to change, is just by doing what I can at my level to impact positively on the people around myself and myself, you know, and just trying to always use myself as an example first. One thing that I've learned on this journey is that it's always better to use yourself as an example, because the only way you really are helping others is by helping yourself first. So I guess moving forward with that in mind is just about constantly, in big and small ways, just trying to ensure that. Continue to learn things and continuing to unlearn things. And I guess also sharing that with others.
Annie [00:35:10] And for those who are listening who like, yeah, love watching the odd nature program and they know instinctively that being around nature calms them, but they don't really know what they should be doing out there - I suppose, what advice would you give to our listeners to go and immerse themselves in nature, and to get the most out of it, I suppose?
Kwesia [00:35:30] You know, being in nature is not all about knowing bird names or, you know, not at all. It's just about being present, I'd say, and embracing, embracing what that looks like. You don't have to go all the way to the Amazon to experience an expedition or go to Antarctica or, you know, like, right on your doorstep, in your house, out the window, literally wherever you are nature is there coexisting alongside you. So I guess taking out all of those kind of expectations that sometimes we like to put on ourselves and just embracing, you know, our natural world for what it is. And finding the beauty in it, or maybe not the beauty, maybe it's not beautiful to you but just embracing it! And you don't need to be a botanist.
Annie [00:36:28] And turn your phone off!
Kwesia [00:36:29] Ohhhh!
Annie [00:36:29] That's major.
Kwesia [00:36:32] How could I forget laughs because that's-
Annie [00:36:35] Turn your phone off.
Kwesia [00:36:35] Because that's been a consistent theme, as you've heard as well, with me. Definitely, definitely turn your phone off. You know, connect with your senses. Whatever sense you home in on or whatever it is, you can just spend ten minutes outside going for a walk without your phone, and you know, you'll be surprised what you'll notice that you probably never noticed before because I do that all the time, and every time I do it, even if it's the same walk, I notice something different. Because a bird could have came from somewhere that's never been there before, I can hear something that wasn't there before, you know? So it's always changing. And that's the beauty- that's the beauty of nature too, it's always changing, just like us too.
Annie [00:37:21] Kwesia, thank you so much. It's been such a pleasure to speak to you today. Thank you.
Kwesia [00:37:24] Thank you so much for having me.
Annie [00:37:31] Right then, I don't know about you but I am off to the park for a walk and to look up at the trees and to listen! Unsurprisingly, given what we just heard, as well as winning awards for her podcast Get Birding, Kwesia is now an ambassador for the British Exploring Society. Do check out her YouTube channel, City Girl In Nature, we put a link in the show notes. And thank you for listening to this mini series of Changes. Joy January, wow, we've learned a lot about joy. Thank you for all the messages, thank you for sharing, good luck to anyone who made January resolutions. Linda Terrell, keep going! She emailed to say she's done 20 days of dry Jan at the time and feels very proud as she's Irish. We're rooting for you babe. Also, hello to Jillian who messaged to say her resolutions only ever involve things that are joyful, like learn how to drink wine or try a kebab laughs equally love that one, thank you Jillian! Do please rate, review and subscribe to Changes if you haven't yet. It is so appreciated. Share it amongst your pals and Changes is back next week with a fantastic comedian who had a huge change when she got diagnosed with something in her adulthood. Make sure you're subscribed. Changes is produced by Louise Mason with assistant production from Anna Dewolfe Evans. See you next week, folks!