Dear Natalie, What is this? And why?

Ask Natalie Banner

By Natalie McCarthy

Dear you,

It’s a move to a written format.

This new format is not limited by letters, questions, fears, worries, or problems; rather, it is expanded by them.

Let me explain.

You might remember how, for a while, I had the honor of answering questions through an advice column called “Ask Natalie.” I fielded letters about back-country ethics and front-country relationships, and every so often, I’d be delighted to receive a follow-up comment or two. When Nicole [Camping for Women] asked me if I’d like to make the column into a video series, I was nervous, but delighted, but so totally nervous. I have always been more motivated by fear of regret than plain ol’ fear, so I agreed, and off we went into the jungle of YouTube.

For a few wild and wonderful months, I was filmed answering the letters I received, and I got to read entertaining and kind comments from those who viewed each episode. As an advice columnist, I was having a ball responding to what was being said.

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However, as someone who chose psychotherapy as a profession, I’ve always been keen on listening to what isn’t said. Often, we don’t talk about our most important questions, our strongest fears, or our most fervent dreams. We carry them in us, but for a thousand different reasons, they never make their way into words. I was reminded of this when the inevitable happened: Natalie the advice columnist ceased to receive regular requests for advice. At face value, I thought this was a lovely thing. I figured it meant that readers of the column were calm and content. Upon further thought, though, I wondered: What isn’t getting asked?

And so here we are. Each month, I will ask the questions, and I will answer them. Sounds strange, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s exactly what we all do day-in and day-out: We have experiences, and internally, we run a dialog with ourselves. This happens even more often when we are adventuring and having new experiences. “What’s that?” we ask ourselves when we see something we’ve never seen before.  “Wonder what’s going on there,” we’ll internally murmur when we glimpse a tense interaction between strangers speaking a language we do not understand. “Why is this happening?” we’ll silently wail when we face hardship on a hiking trail. We don’t often speak these questions aloud, of course, but we pose them to ourselves.

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In this new version of “Ask Natalie,” I will speak those questions aloud – almost like a journal entry – where you can read them and, I hope, respond to them.

Your participation is what turns a silent musing into a true dialog. My hope is that I will open the door to some of the experiences we have as adventuring women, and you will walk through it with your own perspective and knowledge. I want to feature your written comments, video responses, and audio recorded thoughts. All of these forms of feedback are welcomed in the new “Ask Natalie,” and in that sense, you are as much an author of this new column as I am. (And for what it’s worth, if you ever do have a problem you’d like some advice on – we can still do that here!)

If I can be super candid with you all, I have to say, I’m very excited about this new direction. I’m excited for you to be even more involved with “Ask Natalie,” and I’m excited that as a journal of sorts, we can feature all sorts of media. I’m excited that I won’t feel as compelled to have makeup on when I send Nicole my contribution to the column! Mostly, I’m excited that we can create a little place where we shine light on those corners of our experience that aren’t covered in the outdoors and travel magazines.

We can talk about what it is like to be women facing new adventures and growing because of them.

Thank you for coming along with me on this new journey!

Natalie

 

 

 

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51 thoughts on “Dear Natalie, What is this? And why?

    • December 14, 2017 at 1:00 pm
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      Thank you Claire! Me too!

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  • December 13, 2017 at 12:23 am
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    This sounds like an amazing concept! Looking forward to reading your future blog posts related to Q&A series!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm
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      Thank you Ana. I am glad you’ll be part of this 🙂

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  • December 12, 2017 at 10:29 pm
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    I love it! And the way your mind works, I am certain we are in for quite a ride. 🙂

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:01 pm
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      Haha oh Sonya – you see me for who I am! ❤️

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  • December 12, 2017 at 4:56 pm
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    Sounds like a wonderful idea! I hope you have lots of fun and growth from doing it. I definitely prefer the written word over video for getting my thoughts together… call it the old-fashioned side of my personality, but thoughts seem to come out much more cohesive that way!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:03 pm
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      Kate, I hear you! There’s a pressure i feel with video to be fluid and super articulate…and QUICKLY! With writing, it can come together at its own speed. Thanks for the kind comment.

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  • December 12, 2017 at 9:17 am
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    I was having a dialogue with myself while reading this that went something like this: “That’s a great idea she’s come up with, isn’t it?” … “Yup, sure is!”
    Will look forward to seeing what questions and conversations come from this!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:03 pm
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      Haha EG, so you know what I mean, then! So glad you’ll be following along.

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  • December 11, 2017 at 8:26 am
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    What a fun way to turn a sometimes overhead concept of Q&As on its head! Love that Your turning towards a journal type concept. Looking forward to reading new posts!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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      Thanks so much, Martha. I’m stoked to try something different and have you all join me

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  • December 11, 2017 at 8:05 am
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    That’s such a cool idea! I can’t wait to follow the project and see how it goes. So good that you are willing to share your knowledge.

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:04 pm
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      Paulina, that’s kind of you. Thank you! I’m excited!

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  • December 11, 2017 at 6:18 am
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    I will be curious to see how this new venture takes shape. I hope you will continue to get questions from other people as well. I think it’s a good balance of getting to know you and getting our questions answered that would be the best.

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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      David, yes, thank you for bringing this up. Questions are still welcome! I love hearing from folks. My hope is that when I share my thoughts and experiences, it’ll prompt others to ask or say some of what they’ve been holding back. So I’m with you – I want to hear from you all!

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  • December 10, 2017 at 9:55 pm
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    This is such an interesting idea, I’m intrigued to come back and seeing how it’s going. I’m looking forward to reading more!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:07 pm
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      Hey Chelsea, thanks for that. 🙂

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  • December 10, 2017 at 7:51 pm
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    Looking forward to this new concept. I know I will be able to relate to some of them. This is a good idea, because some women have questions they’ve been dying to ask but would rather not. You will be reaching out to them and hopefully, they get the responses/advice that they really need.

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:08 pm
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      Annemarie, what a kind comment – yes, that’s my suspicion too! I think, also, there are times we might not even realize we had a question or concern until someone else mentions it. That’s exactly what we are looking to tackle here.

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  • December 10, 2017 at 6:57 pm
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    Oh this is such a wonderful concept. I would love to see how this goes and I am sure that it will be a success! I will regularly visit your blog to check out what’s happening. So happy for you!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:09 pm
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      Kristine, thank you! What a nice comment to read at 5 AM, Oregon time 🙂

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  • December 10, 2017 at 2:35 pm
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    Your new format sounds great. Hope this change will do well. It’s indeed an amazing idea!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:10 pm
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      Linh, thank you so much. I’m hoping it will be something new that you’ll all really enjoy.

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  • December 10, 2017 at 12:25 pm
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    This is indeed an innovative change to be taken! I always receive questions that I answered multiple times on my blog and sometimes I just wish they would disappear all at once 🙂 I’ll try to learn from your idea – thanks a lot!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:10 pm
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      Haha, yes! Nothing like feeling like a broken record! 🙂

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  • December 9, 2017 at 9:34 pm
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    This sounds like such a good idea! Pre-empting some reader questions, ask them and answer them in the same time. I might even copy it for our blog, as we are travelling full-time in a self-built overland camper! We constantly receive questions, mostly by email or Facebook messages, some of which I answer over-and-over…

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:11 pm
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      Juergen, so glad I could help offer you a new approach. Thanks for your kind words.

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  • December 9, 2017 at 9:25 pm
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    This is such an interesting idea, I love it. And it’s great that you’re going to incorporate various media from your readers in this series. I think you’re right about people not always asking the questions they want to ask, or saying the things they want to say. Hopefully by you asking and answering your own questions people can see their questions being answered (because I’m sure a lot of people will probably think when they read this column “yeah I was wondering about that too.”)

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:13 pm
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      Alouise, thank you! you really heard me in this entry – that’s exactly what I hope for, too. And honestly, I’m most excited about the reader feedback in different media. I can’t wait to hear from you all.

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  • December 9, 2017 at 8:53 pm
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    This sounds like a fun new change to the series! I agree that things we don’t say are just as important as those we do. I studied nonverbal communication in school and that can be very telling too!!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:14 pm
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      Sarah, yes!! (Your studies sound fascinating, btw.) Sometimes we need a little push to get the concert started.

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  • December 9, 2017 at 7:00 pm
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    I am a huge outdoors fan and every chance I get, I will be outside. I am intrigued and excited to see what is in store for your new series and hopefully, I can gain tips from this along the way. I look forward to your new chapter in life

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:16 pm
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      Mel, thanks for such a kind comment and for stopping by my first column here!

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  • December 9, 2017 at 4:43 pm
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    I like the sound of what you are doing and good luck with your new format! Ask Natalie sounds like it’s going to be a very interesting series because of the unique concept of asking and answering the questions from one entity only. I am looking forward to the first post!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:17 pm
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      Joanna, thank you! My hope is that what I share will prompt more feedback, questions, and ideas from you all. I hope we are all involved with this. I’m really looking forward to it.

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  • December 9, 2017 at 1:17 pm
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    I thought that was truly an interesting series that you’ve introduced. I am curious and excited to see what is in store. I hope to learn a lot of new things from you!

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    • December 14, 2017 at 1:17 pm
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      Thank you Abigail!

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  • December 9, 2017 at 8:41 am
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    I hope to see the new version of Ask Natalie soon. I’ll be looking forward to it.

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  • December 9, 2017 at 6:14 am
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    Hi Natalie! It’s so great that you started this project. I think it’s really cool to ask and answer the questions each month. I’m really looking forward to read “Ask Natalie” entry to know more about your experience.

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    • December 10, 2017 at 2:19 pm
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      Thank you! So glad to have you as part of our audience 🙂

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  • December 9, 2017 at 1:35 am
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    Hi Natalie! So nice meeting you as a hiker! I do ask questions and answer lot myself in my head. It’s not strange at all. We do need to have dialogue with ourselves and think about good intention and our days. What a inspirational post! Look forward to more new journeys!

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    • December 9, 2017 at 4:20 am
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      Thank you Soonjoo! I hope you’ll share some of that internal dialogue with us. I think a lot of us mistakenly assume we are the only ones having these emotions or experiences – especially when they are not pleasant!

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    • December 9, 2017 at 4:19 am
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      Thank you Sarahbeth! I hope you’ll keep following along.

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  • December 8, 2017 at 10:29 pm
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    This sounds interesting. What a great way to share your knowledge for those of us who might not be sure what to ask. I look forward to reading more!

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    • December 9, 2017 at 4:18 am
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      Thanks so much, Kim! I’m excited!

      Reply

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