We are going to meet Aoife, a twin child of 30 years, living in Waterford, Ireland.Aoife, pronounced like Efa, is an old irish name, with the meaning of “radiant beauty” which indeed, when getting to know her during the interview, expresses her being and connection to nature a lot.
Aoife grew up in this beautiful piece of earth, surrounded by the sea, mountains, forests and the copper coast with beaches. “I went away for two years for college, but realized quickly that there is no better place than here. The south east of Ireland has a special place in my heart. You have everything you want, why should I go somewhere else.”
Besides her passion for being curious to try out new equipment and being creative in nature, with for example spoon carving, cooking or photographing, she has been working in financial technology for about 6 years. Since working for two years now more or less permanently from home, she loves taking time off from the apartment she lives in, with mainly her partner and dog, or sister, to go for a nice day hike, or longer trip into the wilderness. “After a day of work I easily feel a lot of “mind-fog”.
After a bit of a mentally rough time she experienced during college, when she did not really know what to continue with, as the studies did not match up with her anymore, she started finding solutions for herself in mindfulness and meditation. Aoife has since then been a big fan of mindfulness and meditation, but for her it is more challenging to practice it at home. “My mind is just running from what to eat for dinner, what's up at work, when is my next meeting, what do I need to get for shopping, and so on. Going into nature, bushcrafting, camping, hiking is like an unconscious mindfulness.There is no effort required in being conscious when being outdoors, for me. All thoughts just disappear.”
To the question what Bushcrafting means for her, her answer flows out with a serious giggle, “it is like an accidental meditation.” Aoife explains that she feels in nature, as if she is only present in the moment. “When preparing a fire with a sharp tool, walking on the ground to not step into a whole, it's necessary to be present.” In these times she does not think about anything else than the present moment. It supports her a lot to clear her mind when being in nature. “After times in nature I am able to think more constructively, am more clear in my mind and just feel totally refreshed. I do not worry anymore, nature is problem solving.The more I create time to chill for myself, the more I chill.”
With her parents she never really camped or hiked in her youth, but they spent a lot of time in nature. She loved horse riding and spending time outdoors. In her later teens and early twenties she started to experience that she likes longer walks or hikes and really felt so happy with exploring new things here. “I asked myself when realizing that I like it so much, how I can stay longer outdoors then just hiking? Oh yes, that's then called camping. You can stay outdoors for a little longer” She met her partner, who was already deeply into camping and outdoors when they got to know each other. They then started to try a lot of different ways to camp. In a forest or mountain top or in a hammock or bivi. Aoife is always curious to experience new things. For her it’s not about mastering it, but just being chronically curious.
“My friends always say: what the hell is she up to now?” she says with a big laugh.
She and her partner do have a clash in personality, Aoife said. But when being outdoors they are finding a happy medium now. Aoife enjoys for the feminine, yin-flowing part when going into nature, aimlessness, strolling without a goal around, picking mushrooms, cooking, photographing or relaxing in her hammock, whereas her partner lives more the male, yang-structure aprt of achieving a mountaintop or hiking a specific route. They perfectly arranged themselves as a couple when going out together, to even learn from each other's way of experiencing nature and combine both ways.
“We now walk up a mountain top at my slow pace while taking all the pictures I like to take, or cooking something when arriving at the top. This gives both of us a new experience and expands our comfort zone. I really enjoy seeing the view up there now, where I normally would have not gone to, and my partner found more value for himself in being outdoors, without achieving something. He gets the chill, I get the achievement - mutually beneficial, no bad compromise.” They are openly setting limits towards each other as well meet each other with respect and keep an open communication.
Aoife would like to go out on her own more often. “As a woman it is like a right of passage to go out as a female alone, that's really next level”. When it is about safety, she does not always feel safe, but she and her partner, or she on her own, always trained a lot by going out with new equipment, changing roles, to know what she needs and how to use equipment. She would love to say that she is just safe on her own, but honestly, there is still some piece of fear inside. “It is like gaining confidence in one's own ability, a lot of anxiety comes from ‘what do I do when…’. These fears can be reduced with good preparation, practice and a calm mind.”
You can actually practice skills everywhere, also just at home or an hour away in a close place in nature. She proposes, “if you identify a problem at the moment, calm down and just take time to figure it out. Do not stress out. Stay calm. With taking a deep breath, you can from a relaxed state of mind and figure out anything. You just have to let go of the perfectionism and learn from the experience.”
As Aoife is from Ireland, we were curious how she got in touch with Bushcraftshop.nl. “I was searching for some bushcraft equipment, like specific axes or knives, which was not possible to find in mostly only outdoor-camping-hiking shops we have in Ireland. When looking for “Bushcraft Europe” online, I found Bushcraftshop.nL and was happy to find everything I needed. Especially the Firebox, which is really hard to get via the US into Ireland. Since then I regularly, already for some years now, buy at Bushcraftshop.nl. In regards to the language I just use Google Translate. Up next I will check out new women's clothing.”
Aoife sees in other shops as well that there is a higher amount of mens clothing or the niche of pink and flowery products for women. We as Bushcraftshop want to give women a nice assortment of clothes to feel comfortable, female and have all practical features.
With her instagram account, @adventurewithaoife her intention is to document and inspire others. People she received nice inspiration from, with e.g. places to go, things to cook, made her grow a lot and experience a lot of cool things. This is something she wants to pass on with her account and as well really enjoys the community around it.
How do you feel in nature Aoife?
“Good question, I just feel content.”
Thanks so much Aoife for your openness and I am happy to see your onward travels and explorations.