“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be.” ~Anne Frank
My one full day on my Mama Retreat began with the sound of the birds and ended with the sounds of the woodland insects. Sipping coffee from my black metal coffee mug, seated in my camping chair first thing in the morning has got to be one of my favorite things. With a towel spread on the Earth I welcomed my day with a few sun salutations and gentle yoga stretching.
I find morning to be a time when solitude is a great gift. I live almost every day with four other extraordinary individuals, and although seeing their faces, giving them snuggles, fixing them breakfast, and talking about the day to come is an honor I thoroughly enjoy, sometimes waking up and spending a morning alone is a beautiful gift. I don’t jump right in to my roles…I’m just me.
After some reading (I’ll share in the final segment of this series what all this reading and writing is about), I tied up my shoes, sprayed on some of my essential oils to keep the bugs away, and headed out to the bottom of the canyon I gazed above the night before. I glanced at my map and had a general idea of the route I wanted to take, so off I went.
As I descended, passing dark caves, trickling water over gorgeous naturally-stacked shale, and creeks that offered not only a cool place to splash my hands but one of my most favorite background sounds.
I found my way, along with several other day hikers, to the bottom of the canyon where I was presented with the most beautiful waterfalls. I stood at the base and pondered the power and the consistency of the water. This water had flowed from higher points, ultimately some mountain top frozen in it’s altitude. Here it is, right now, dropping from the ledge as it makes its way further along it’s path the the lowest point it can find. Maybe that’ll be the ocean. And to observe the force of the water as it falls, and the chaos it creates at that point of impact…then notice the pool of still water only feet away, calm like glass.
I hiked along the path that paralleled the creek for a couple of hours before I realized this was not my intended route. I had to chuckle at myself, at how many times I follow the path that is more intriguing at the time, but maybe not aligned with my intention. It was stunning. It was peaceful. And the people I encountered were lovely (Its good not to be alone ALL of the time! Especially in the woods on an unfamiliar trail.). I had not been prepared to be out all day, bringing only my one water bottle and my camera.
I decided to turn around and head back to camp, my thighs telling me loudly that all this trekking downhill needed to be countered by an equal number of steps uphill. 527 steps, to be exact. Well, 527 stairs built in to the side of the canyon, and many more steps along the ascending trails.
Back at the campsite I sat at the picnic table and enjoyed a beer and some trail mix as I let all that I had just just experienced sink in. The physical effort that left my muscles tingling and my lungs invigorated. The intense emersion with the five elements that make up our physical world: wood (trees/leaves/flowers), fire (sun as it shone on my face and reflected in the most extraordinary ways along my route), metal (rocks and stones of every texture, broken pieces and large masses), earth (the dirt and dust itself that cushioned each step), and water, glorious water.
I felt proud of myself. I wasn’t the only one to hike these trails…I wasn’t the oldest or the youngest, I wasn’t comparing myself to anyone else. Each person there made a choice to go out and connect with nature that day, just like me. I was proud of myself for knowing that this is what I need to feel whole. That the worldly worries I had when I left my suburban oasis only the day before were inconsequential. I am okay. I am more than okay–I am strong. I am worthy. I am capable. I am just as essential as every person I passed on the trail, as every person I left behind at home, as every bird, every leaf, every moss covered stone.
I honored that, and I gave thanks.