Amy Molloy is a nature-lover, journalist and author of the new book The World is a Nice Place: How to Overcome Adversity Joyfully, a compilation of ten years’ worth of research interviewing ‘inspiring survivors’ about how to emerge from the worse experiences of your life, whilst still hoping for the best. We chatted with Amy about practicing optimism, living in the present and how she personally healed – mentally and physically – by connecting to nature.
Tell us about your new book.
The World is a Nice Place was really inspired by my personal journey, and the amazing people I’ve met along the way. The first quarter of my life is best described as…eventful! From a dangerously premature baby I became a child with obsessive compulsive tendencies, a teenage with an eating disorder and a 23-year-old widow. Throw in a family history of depression and a father paralysed from cancer and it’s a recipe for a messed up adult. Or, so people told me! But, as a journalist, I was always intrigued to discover why some people can emerge from adversity stronger and happier. I went on a mission of discovery to find their secret, and use these strategies in my own life.
As a nature-lover and writer what inspires you personally daily?
This is where I should probably say the ground-shifting events from my past. But, in fact, my everyday inspirations are a lot subtler and probably less extraordinary. In the book, I talk about the importance of finding rituals (which is very different to a rigid routine) that uplifts you, enlivens you and refills your creative juices. My life coach taught me to ask myself, ‘What do I need to feel good right now?’ It’s a simple but powerful question. Sometimes that means retreating from the world to find a quiet sanctuary to write. Sometimes, I seek the buzz of a crowd. It’s about honouring your needs in that moment.
You’ve been through some almighty trials, and keep a glass half-full approach. What advice can you give others dealing with grief in their life and the pursuit of happiness?
One of my favourite chapters in the book is called, ‘Don’t let the worst day of your life be your greatest achievement.’ It’s very easy to define yourself by a past challenge and even wear it as a badge of honour. After I was widowed people kept telling me how inspiring I was, which was kind of them. But I couldn’t shake this feeling I wanted my greatest achievement to be something a little more…positive. Grief, of any kind, can feel all-consuming when you’re in it but there will come a time when you want to be more than a survivor – and that’s okay. For my book, I interviewed amazing people who’ve used their past – and the lessons they learnt – as a springboard to incredible things.
The outdoors, environment and adventure seem to be at the core of your life. How important is a reset in nature for one’s wellbeing?
For me, nature is the ultimate healer (I say this as a city girl who only rediscovered the benefits of ‘natural therapy’ in my late twenties). Spending time outside, especially in water, is key to my ‘self-soothing’ strategies. When I was in labour with my baby daughter my partner and I spent hours walking on the beach. During my contractions I imagined hiking up a steep trail, feeling the power in my body and the breeze on my face. I honestly don’t think I would have conceived without ‘natural healing’. I didn’t have a period for seven years after my first husband died and truly believe my body went into shock through the trauma. It came back a month after I met the father of my baby during a 140km hike across the Tasmanian wilderness we took together.
Even though you have a toddler and currently pregnant you’ve been recently on the road and camping out, we love that. What’s the secret to camping well with a young family?
Adaptability! You have to let go of your old way and find a better way. Before parenthood, my partner and I used to sleep together in a one-man hammock when we were camping (cosy!). Now, we travel less lightly (recently upgrading to a Seek Society Bell Tent on a camping trip). We’re lucky to have friends with private properties in the middle of nowhere who let us camp there whenever we like. It’s far more relaxing than a paid-for campsite where you’re worried about your teething baby waking your ‘neighbours’. The truth? It’s not always easy adventuring with a baby. But when you watch a one-year-old wake up in the wilderness, transfixed by rays of sunshine on a tent roof, it’s so incredibly worth it.