We had the good fortune of connecting with Summer Lajoie and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Summer, can you share a quote or affirmation with us?
“We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection with ourselves.” _Andy Goldsworthy

Andy Goldsworthy had a tremendous influence on me while I was attending art college. His creative process of connecting with the land inspired me and steered me towards what I do today. The essence of this quote is the backbone to the mission of my small holistic wellness and arts business, Listening Pines. To strengthen the relationships between people and the more-than-human-world and remind others that we belong to nature and we are all creative beings. The feeling of belonging is incredibly powerful and can help so many to heal, grow and be inspired to create. It was through my own creative process of making ephemeral art in nature during a very difficult time in my own life that led me to discovering Forest Bathing. This way of being creative and in touch with nature became a potent form of medicine for me and eventually led me to becoming a certified Forest Therapy Guide, which then opened a floodgate of creativity and connection for me and my business.

Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
My business is quite unique and some have never heard of Forest Therapy, and still others have a difficult time comprehending exactly what it is. Yet with the rise of awareness and interest in Forest Bathing, it is becoming a more familiar industry of wellness and medicine. Personally, I have been hosting Forest Bathing walks at the Bear Creek Nature Center in Colorado springs twice monthly for about a year and a half. What I love most about hosting these walks is the opportunity to share my practice with my community and raise money for the Nature Center’s non-profit. This exchange is a form of reciprocity that I hope to continue with my other professional endeavors with Listening Pines, which include offering private sessions to organizations as a means to decompress and team build, as well as offering wellness retreats for deep relaxation and overall wellness. I am currently researching nature based organizations to donate a good portion of my proceeds in gratitude of all the gifts that nature has provided for us. In practicing mindfulness daily I have learned to trust the unfolding of what life presents to me in all it’s many challenges. Being a mother of two small boys, an entrepreneur juggling many side projects and person enduring the everyday challenges of the pandemic, I find that my own offering of this form of mindfulness meditation is the very same tool I use to manage the stresses of starting and running a small business.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As a Forest Therapy Guide of course my favorite places would be in the forest! I absolutely love living in Colorado Springs, a city with so many amazing forested area right in town, but my all time favorite spot is the Bear Creek Nature Center. This is Colorado’s first nature center and has a wonderful education center and lovely paths with easy access to the creek. My next favorite forested spot in the city would be Sondermann Park, this nature preserve also has great trails and creek access. Lastly I would highly recommend a visit to Rockledge Historical Park, as this is directly attached to the famous Garden of the Gods, which of course a huge natural wonder and attraction, but is a bit less known and therefore has less foot traffic. It has a variety of sights to see from historic buildings and historic living demonstrations and livestock, yet it is the gorgeous trees, duck pond and backdoor access to lesser known trails into Garden of the Gods that I love most. I have several partnerships with deeper wilderness locations as well, featuring acres of old growth forest, gorgeous mountain views and even one with a state of the art treehouse for those looking for something more private. I do not advertise these for the sake of keeping them wild and only accessing them for therapeutic purposes, so if you are interested please reach out to me at summer@listeningpines.com.

Then I would recommend visiting some great locally owned businesses. One of my favorites is Anna’s Apothecary in Manitou Springs, where one can not only find an abundance of natural healing ingredients but be informed by extremely knowledgeable herbalists. Another would be Carnelian Coffee Co which is located in Old Colorado City. This coffee shop has fabulous beverages, delicious food with vegan and gluten free options, a super cute and comfy atmosphere and fantastic service. Not to mention they are named after a beautiful stone and have all sorts of fabulous merchandise from crystals to local arts and crafts. Lastly, I would love to recommend visiting the Cheyanne Mountain Zoo! This is one of the most amazing zoo’s and is literally located on a mountain side. A visit to the fabulous zoo feels like you are hiking while visiting rare animals and enjoying a breathtaking view of the city.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to give a shoutout to the following:

-Tamara Herl (life coach, artist, retreat leader, Forest Therapy Guide, friend and mentor)
-Jane Scanlon (fellow Forest Therapy Guide, friend and mentor)
-Jackie Kung and Ben Page (author of Healing Trees, a Pocket Guide to Forest Bathing) both trainers and facilitators with the Association of Nature Therapy (mentors in my Forest Therapy Training)
-Bear Creek Nature Center (where I host public walks twice monthly, especially the director Mary Jo Lewis for her outstanding dedication to inspire people to spend more time with nature, I love her down to earth and easy going personality and perseverance through so many challenges this past couple of years)
-Catamount Center of Environmental Science (Julie Francis is a fellow Forest Therapy Guide, friend and mentor, the Catamount Institute deserves a mention as well)
-Amos Clifford (author of Your Guide to Forest Bathing and the founder of the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy)
-Andy Goldsworthy (my favorite artist and inspiration)
-Chelsea Skye at chelseaskye.info (the designer of my logo, who deeply listened and created my vision of a visual representation of what I am inviting my clients to feel so beautifully)

Website: listeningpines.com

Instagram: @listening_pines

Facebook: @listeningpines

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutColorado is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.