Day 5 – the great outdoors

I’ve always loved nature. I was born in a city and raised in a city for 4 years, but I actually never really lived in a city until I went to university. I spent years living in the most isolated houses, farms or flats on the countryside, playing with animals, branches and flowers instead of actual toys. I endured grim winters, hot summers and beautiful spring and autumn wherever I was at that time, as long as I could go outside, and by outside I mean taking a step behind the house to find a forest, rivers, mountains, fields or at least a garden, right before my eyes. You see where I am going with this, you clever people you. Once a country girl, always a country girl – nature sticks to you like odor from a horse shed, and if you ever had to clean a barn full of horse poop, you know what I am talking about. When I moved to the city to start my education at university, I was blinded by the abundance a city has to offer. Streets and shops took over my walks in the forest. Meeting at coffee shops and restaurants took over barbecuing outside or just sitting at the river, enjoying the sight. For a brief while I forgot what nature meant to me, how much I missed it in my daily life. I still went outdoors whenever I travelled home, went on a hike or took a bike ride. But that’s not really the same to being outdoors every single day.
In the years, that led to my break down and burnout eventually, where the lurking depression got more and more hold of me, I almost completely lost touch with my inner country girl. And when the big collapse was inevitable, I didn’t have the desire to go out anymore completely, let alone, taking a walk somewhere outdoors. Even when I moved to the countryside again temporarily, the green was not alluring anymore. Sunshine, clouds, water, rain, summer, spring, autumn, were indifferent to me. I felt no joy, when the warm summer air touched my skin, I didn’t even realize it. I still went outside almost every single day, as part of my treatment. One activity each day, no more, no less. That was the deal. So I went outside, without joy, without seeing the beauty, just because I had to. At first, I had a swim, rode a bike, walked a bit, sat at the lake, because I had to. It gave me nothing. Over the course of many months though, something changed. Grass seemed green again, sun was something to look forward to, a swim in the lake had an almost irresistible allure and when I looked around, I realized, that there was reason to smile again, to breathe in deep and to appreciate the peace, quiet and calm of nature. It was great!

I am currently back in the city for a little while. Breathe that air again, see how it feels and to test, how far I have come with my recovery and treatment. At first, I was very energetic and had a lot of drive, similar to the days before. Then, something changed. I felt stressed again, restless, overburdened and almost helpless, as I didn’t know why or how that happened. I still don’t. But I am not giving up like this. Yesterday was a beautiful day. There was sunshine, springy temperatures –  and it was saturday! I took a big leap that morning, when suggesting to my love to go outside to a very big national park like area in our city. For 10 years, I have never set a foot there. Of course not, for a country girl, this is just a park. Silly city people go there, with their hiking shoes and outdoor clothing, pretending they just took a real, challenging hike! As my condition got worse, I never had the will or strength to go there first by public transport, which seemed like a day long assignment (people, hot, sticky, long!) only to walk somewhere with trees and grass, when I didn’t find that any relaxing or beautiful anymore. Hence the leap!
I went there yesterday, and it was really nice. The journey there didn’t take as long as feared, there were only a few people, not the masses of chattering city people I expected. I thought, it was going to be a moderate walk, with maybe one or two little inclines – boy was I wrong. In total, I went up and down 400 meters in altitude difference, walked for more than 12 kilometers. Dressed in a thick, woolen roll-neck sweater, of course, it was supposed to be just a little walk and it was windy outside, ok? Give me a break. What was really wonderful for me to see was, that although I spent close to 6 hours outside, I didn’t feel as if I have missed anything. A year ago, a saturday, would have been THE day, to get as much done as possible. Get up early, clean, organize, do food shopping, have a coffee somewhere, take a stroll along the near farmers market, have breakfast, go to the city and buy something or browse, get home in time for dinner and pretty much afterwards collapse on the nearest sofa. That’s a huge pile of nonsense, of course. I do believe, that you only think, that you are missing out on something, when you fail to enjoy the life you live, when you don’t live the life you want, when you are afraid, that you are always one step behind life. Feel free to remind me of what I said right now, in a year or so, when work has caught up with me again and I forgot about enjoying each moment, as it comes. Which will hopefully not happen. Close to the flat, I ran into our neighbour, who has been living next door with his girlfriend for 5 years now, and I never was able to take the step and invite them into our home. Yesterday, out of the blue, without weighing pro’s and con’s before, I asked him, if he and his girlfriend would like to come over sometime next week, for some table top games and talks. Just like that. He said yes, and I am already nervous and doing my best to maintain my zen and to fight the urge, that everything has to be perfect, including me. I will let you know, my dearest little army of readers. Have a beautiful sunday and enjoy each minute of it.

PS: It was pointed out to me, that with this blog, I once more fed into my urge to be perfect, successful and to accomplish something. I expected a lot (reader wise, site view wise, writing wise), wanted it to be perfect, only thought of the challenges as topics for the blog, when it originally was intended as some kind of public diary, where I would talk about my challenges for myself, mainly. Instead of writing an entry for day 5 yesterday evening, when I was really tired and exhausted, I chose to blog about it today. One step at a time.

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4 thoughts on “Day 5 – the great outdoors

  1. I still owe you a comment. Extended Saturday’s challenge to Sunday, so was busy with spoiling myself and being spoilt. 🙂

  2. Hello country girl! You know that my childhood friends keep reminding me about one discussion we had I guess maybe 20 years ago (gosh, that sounds as we were already that old). But it was a discussion about how I could not imagine myself living in a city. Well, since 1999, I have almost exclusively lived in cities. In the contrary, my childhood friend still lives in the small village. I have lived in different places in the world, have seen and travelled a lot… but at the end, I came to appreciate Austria, Vienna, Salzburg and even more so, the little village I grew up. Yes, I am a country girl like you. We did not care about TV and games, because the nature was the biggest playground just in front of our house. We were innovative, creative and free. And you know what, after all these years, I am still a country girl! I get excited when everything is in flower in spring, to smell the hay in summer, to walk through the autumn leaves that had fallen off the trees and to look at the glittering snow that covers the landscape in winter. I can get excited like a small child that has never seen those things before. I miss it and often feel disconnected with what used to be my environment, my life. And even I discovered only very late that there was something like nature in the city. It’s not in front of your house, therefore, it takes some effort to get there. True. But there are wonderful places, parks, etc. within the city that are valuable to be discovered. And I remember the last year at home, when you showed me some wonderful places that I could not have imagined before.

    I am really happy that you can enjoy all these places again. The country side. The city. The little natural spots within an urban area. That it gives you strength and joy. And that you are open to discover new places. And that you embrace the re-connection with your inner country girl. It’s part of us. We will never loose this connection. At least I can’t imagine! Once a country girl, always a country girl! 😉

    By the way, I spent my weekend in the country side. A small hideout on a river from where you can take a boat up the river to some little waterfall or down the river to some wonderful white beaches with a stunning view over the Peninsula mountains. If there was a hammock on my balcony, I would have definitely opted to sleep in there for the rest of the night. How I wish this little bungalow was my apartment! Wide doors opening up to the veranda, and there, in front, beach, trees and river. Ahhh… lovely!

    PS: Keep us updated how the meeting with the neighbor and his girlfriend goes.

    • If you had a blog, I’d follow you. The way your words energize me and fill me with joy and a longing for traveling should be open to more people! I am very happy for you, that you are living in such a beautiful part of the world, even though it has hand-sized, poisonous spiders! 😉

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