Throwback Thursday to that time when I wrote this post and never hit publish. Written 9/1/16.
I never realized the power of being outside.
My dietician, Denise, kept telling, “just go outside.” When I go outside things feel smaller, more manageable. The task at hand hasn’t changed, but I have. You can’t tell me that you look up into that big blue atmosphere and feel trapped or cooped up. It’s honestly almost too much. I’m a homebody, always have been. Even when I was younger, though at that point I was probably a roombody, as most adolescents are. (Or maybe I’m making that assumption because my oldest daughter is very similar.) I spent time at friend’s houses, sure. But when I wasn’t making an active social effort, I was in my house, and most likely in my room.
As an adult, it’s nearly impossible to stay in my room. Can you imagine the toys and discarded socks and string cheese wrappers that I’d pull out of my bed each night? Shudder. Don’t even. My kids are all over the place, the older two do tend to look for those spots where they can find solitude on their own, but we have a very busy house. Not having the solitude of my own place, I just kind of gave up. Sometimes I hole up in the Office, other times in the Music Room working on library stuff, even the Laundry Room. Pathetic! But if I’m folding blankets, linens, panties, and the like – the kids steer clear. (I might ask for help!)
But Denise kept repeating herself, “just go outside.” So I tried it. It was nice for walks, getting outside, even if it was just 15 minutes a day. My problems that usually clouded my mood and frustrated my quick-but-reliable-fix-mom-style seemed to not feel quite so large. How could they? I wasn’t surrounded by constant noise or consistent “butmom!“, yet it wasn’t silence. I’m the oldest of five – and we were LOUD. I don’t do silence.
I enjoyed my walks but managed to turn it into something I could use against myself. I obsessed over miles or minutes per mile or even glanced at how many calories my phone and my Fitbit claimed. Because, yes, I ran TWO separate trackers. Le sigh. I really do like you, Numbers – you just make me crazy.
So, while I continued my walking, I stopped treating it like exercise. Sometimes I wear jeans and we go somewhere all together. Other times I pull out the yoga pants and headphones and hit the street in the traditional exercise way. I tried to incorporate it into my normal life, not add it to what’s already there. The 20 minutes to the library? We were just headed to Storytime. It wasn’t really exercising (psst, it still counts!) it was just being a good mom, and treating my girls to a fun morning.
Today I took it up another notch. Every time I’m at my parent’s house in the spring/summer, we always end up sitting outside. For a meal, to chat, to watch the kids play, to watch my dad (and now my husband) play/navigate their RC boats in the Willamette – why not? There’s always a reason that’s not too hard to find and they have the perfect deck and view to do it. I’ve even complained to Cameron that I wished we had something that would allow me to do the same. To get to walk out the back door and sit and read a book.
Simple right? Well, the chairs are in the trailer – somewhere, the picnic table isn’t exactly comfortable, and you can only lay on the grass for so long. Especially with the chickens out! It just wasn’t giving me the same feeling. I wanted to sit and see the sun and relax. Not argue with a compartment in the trailer to sit in an uncomfortable camping chair. Lazy? Probably. But beside the point! I even tried to convince Cam we didn’t need to rebuild the shed, we should just pour a slab or build a second deck and put comfy patio furniture on it! Yeah, not so much. That idea didn’t last, ha!
So today, I just did it. I took two minutes and checked for the chairs, I couldn’t figure out which compartment they were in and everything was locked anyway. Flop. So I yanked out one of my IKEA chairs and maneuvered it onto the deck. I set it down, closed to door, and sat down. Sure, it’s no river view, but it turns out there’s a lot to my own little backyard. Our Japanese Maple by the deck is growing strong, the gladioli along the back stretch are still in bloom, the garden has grown and while production is slow it’s growing, and the neighbors behind us who were rumored to have tried to start a tree farm have given me a nice little chunk of trees to stare at. It does give me a little reminder of a time when I didn’t have many trees in my view.
Looking out from my office window, where I’ve been spending increasingly more time, I am blessed by the view of my neighbor’s yard… aka construction zone. Half finished shed, old and most likely rusting swing set, a dog run semi-covered by plywood, and a glimpse at what looks like a Gma & Grandson window sticky afternoon project. Not the prettiest.
Looking up it’s instant homesickness… a flat, dry horizon with -count them- 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 trees in my field of vision.
Thank goodness for green.
Whether it’s a bird flying by, a neighbor’s hammering on some non-HOA-compliant addition, a yappy dog, or the neighbors’ small kids playing on the other side of our fence – there’s something to be said about outside noise. Sure the dog gets old at 3:00 am, but at 6:00 in the evening sitting out on the deck, it’s not a large annoyance. The problem is what it is on a manageable level. I’m not drowning in contentious situations and bracing for when I float to the ceiling, I’m in such a huge space that I can’t imagine the number of troubles it would take to even get me off the ground.
It does make a difference, though – suddenly the book I so badly wanted to start today, doesn’t feel like such a chore. When you find a Le Guin on the library discard shelf for free, you take it. I read today. I spent too much time on Facebook, sure, but I READ WORDS OUT OF A BOOK TODAY. Lately, unless we are begging for something to work on/stress over/tear down/rebuild I just do not have the time to read anymore. It’s seriously sad.
So for now, I’m thankful I have my deck. My random inside-chair placed outside. The Christmas Tree Farm fail in front of me. Even the wifi that reaches all the way outside and still functions – I’m writing, right? All good things that were waiting for me, that were always there.
I just had to go outside.