As a seasonal guide, I (Daye) averaged 100-140 days in the field, from surf beaches to old growth trails. I often told people, "I get to wake up each morning thinking, 'There's nowhere else in the world I would rather be today' - not everybody has that." Guiding and the outdoors got me through a lot in life, and helped strengthen me in to the person I am.
At the same time, as this all-too-short article from Outside Magazine touches on, the changing of the seasons each November brought with it a predictable shift in spirit. My work was 3 seasons: my love affair with water in its liquid form only. Each winter I felt like I was floundering, drowning even, as I struggled to patch together income, housing, and relationships, knowing that the following spring would bring further change. I predictably spiralled further in to self-doubt, mood disruption, and shame each successive fall. Although I loved the seasonal work, it was this annual instability that played a primary motivation for me to pursue a Master's degree and a career change to become a clinical counsellor. Now, I integrate outdoor and guiding work in a different way, with mental health as a personal and professional focus -- but it's taken a lot to get here.
Read the Outside Magazine article at: https://www.outsideonline.com/health/wellness/seasonal-guide-mental-health-stress/
Donetta Faye (Daye) Cooper Hagel is a clinical counsellor, veteran wilderness guide, and director of the Mental Health Wilderness First Aid program on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. Read more about her and the MHWFA on the About Us page!