Sitting outside is something I have always enjoyed, maybe because as a child and teen, my family always sat out. We visited and planned activities, usually with a cup of coffee; it became a sort of comfort ritual for me.

Through the years, I found that when I sit out by myself, awesome things happen. I decided to put it on paper, figuring it could be a universal response.

I call it “The Outside S-Effect.”

Silence — It is important to have some type of quietness. I’m referring to the quiet of no technological communications, no conversations with others, no attention-getting reminders of errands or requests from others. This type of environment is where the experience really begins.

Solitude — Being alone with yourself is important; hearing yourself breathe and think, feeling your body relax and hearing your internal thoughts and self-talk. In the absence of others, you become your own companion. This is when true processing begins.

Spiritual — Humans are spiritual beings by nature, and each of us must find that sense of peace for ourselves and see and understand our place and calling in this world using spiritual eyes. It is crucial that we discover what we truly believe. Being outside can help us achieve these things. This is where revelation begins.

Senses — I don’t know what it is, but when outside and without distractions, the senses come to life. Our hearing perks up to new levels, we see the smallest of details that we overlook daily, the smells overtake us as if new and we reach out and tenderly touch common items in nature. This is where discovery begins.

Science — Time outside brings us to the place where we watch the world function, notice its abilities to co-exist with us, watch it grow, recognize its capacity to react to external influences, to produce life, respond to our interruptions, and then adapt, balance, function and continue on. It’s difficult to spend much time outside and not be aware of the perfection of science in nature, and not feel a greater sense of responsibility for its care. This is where a sense of unity begins.

Solutions — Being outside and alone with our thoughts has a way of stimulating our brains to process large amounts of information, emotions and to begin forming solutions for issues we are struggling with. Solutions seem workable, simpler and do-able. This is when productivity begins.

Spend time outside today.

Darla Menking is a certified Bell County Texas Master Gardener and a Texas Master Naturalist. Email her at

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