We had the good fortune of connecting with Robin Hancock and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Robin, what role has risk played in your life or career?
For me, risk risk taking is essential, to an extent. As a child and early adult years, I toed the line for the most part – meaning I busied myself meeting the expectations of those around me. I was very hesitant to upset the apple cart, so to speak. This began to take a toll on me, until eventually I came to a breaking point. Professionally, I was very good at what I did and had a certain amount of security in that job, but it had begun to diverge from my inner values to an extent that I could no longer reconcile the two. Personally, I was also at a tipping point. My mother died in 2015 and it made me think about the end of my life – if I would have a regret if I didn’t pursue being a Forest Therapy Guide. The answer to that was that I would regret it, so I literally made plans to pursue that certification and retire, all within the same week. Risk taking for me actually meant I was more aligned with my true self and inner desires. It allowed me to pursue what I consider my calling, which is something I feel infinitely grateful to have the opportunity to do.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
As a Certified Forest Therapy Guide, I help others connect with Nature through the senses. This simple act of reconnecting is a way of remembering, in more than one sense of the word. What’s special about this practice is that we don’t set intentions or have expectations. Instead, everyone if free to have their own experience – the one THEY need at that specific moment. The Forest is the therapist, and I’m just there to facilitate that connection. I have witnessed many very personal and much needed moments in my 4+ years of guiding, and am often touched by where people are led in their inner landscapes once they fully connect. To know that another human has had such a deep and fulfilling experience brings joy and light to my world. I understood the power of a deep nature connection after grieving the loss of a couple of very close relationships, and subsequently spending much time in the Forest. After retiring from my job of may years, I sought to pursue bringing this gift to others. It wasn’t easy because it changed my entire world – much more than a mere shift. But having an understanding that it was a calling kept me moving forward. I knew nothing of starting a new business, but just stuck with it, doing one thing at a time. I have to remind myself that there’s no right or wrong way to do this – that doing it my way is what’s important. As long as I’m being true to myself, I’m on the right path. I named my company Renewal by Nature because that’s what happens each time someone enters the Forest and makes a connection there. That connection has the power to change you in some way – thus making you “new” each time. It’s a gift for me to guide others and to witness that renewal, whatever that may be for each person.
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?
Atlanta and the surrounding area has so much to offer, so I could go on and on about this. Stone Mountain is a place I frequent for hiking and kayaking, so that would be a great place to start. Plenty of natural space there, and the mountain itself is so powerful! Fernbank’s 65 acre old growth forest is another place I like to visit to just chill and walk around. It’s a fabulous bit of land, and we’re so fortunate to have a 65 acre tract conserved so close to the city. Woodlands Garden in Decatur is a nice mix of wild and cultivated space, so that would be a must, as well. Very quite and well-tended. I live in Decatur, and love to just walk to the square for an organic outing. There are so many cute shops to browse in and nice restaurants – something for everyone. I prefer patios in nice weather, so Taqueria Del Sol and Raging Burrito are a couple of favorites. Arepa Mia in Avondale is also a great spot. So much yummy food and friendly people there. Because I drum, hanging out with the Conundrums and playing with them always lights me up. It’s always just so nice to drum with others and it creates such a nice space. I love performing, which is something I never thought I would say – but it brings such joy to others, and now I just consider it fun. And, of course, I’d guide them on a Forest Therapy Walk – likely at one of my favorite places to guide – the Dunwoody Nature Center.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mother, Peggy Hancock, instilled in me and my brothers a sense of awareness of the natural world that I really appreciate. It’s something that I’ve taken care to pass along to my own children and grandchildren. In addition, my dear friend, Susan DePasquale opened my eyes to Forest Therapy by forwarding an article about it to me. I’m forever in her debt for that loving, intuitive act.