365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

The Great Outdoors

If you’re not someone that loves being outside when it’s nice out (no matter the season) then you probably won’t appreciate this post very much… but you’re certainly welcome to read on.

The last few weeks I’ve been feeling kind of ‘blah’. I think it’s partially because I’ve been fighting a bit of a bug… maybe for the first time in about 10 years my spring time allergies are giving me a reminder that they exist…. maybe my body is just adjusting to not having a million things to do. Regardless of the reason I’ve just not really been feeling 100% like myself. This week I basically chilled at home most evenings. We didn’t have any weeknight softball (cause that season’s done). I bailed on climbing (with Squeak’s blessing) because I was just completely totally exhausted. I figured I needed a few days to rest.

Today Squeaks and I packed some lunches and jumped in the car to head out to Great Falls for a little Saturday climbing session. I was still pretty tired when I woke up but very much looking forward to the excursion. She picked me up just after 9am and we were set up and on some rock by about 11. With the rain last night and the threat of rain today we really weren’t sure what to expect. But we went anyway. Knowing that not only did we need to climb (the ultimate stress reliever) but we needed to climb OUTSIDE.

You see… there is a wonderful side effect of being outside for hours on end doing something that you love. No matter how wicked tired you are you just feel so totally energized. At least, that’s what happens to me every single time. I just absorb the beauty of my surroundings and I can’t help but smile. I’ve always felt this way about being outside. I’ve loved to play outdoor sports and be at the cottage in the water or in the hammock. I love to swim and hike and ski and snowshoe (winter hiking :)). If it’s a nice day my favorite place to be is outside. It just always makes me feel better – about everything.

I think that most people who have the same love of the outdoors as me feel something similar. It doesn’t matter if your dripping sweat of freezing your butt off… If there is sunshine and your outside in it, life is good. I know lots and lots of people who wouldn’t claim to be ‘outdoors’ people. But what they really seem to mean is that they’re not into all the activities that are stereotypically associated with “outdoorsy people”: Camping, Hiking, Swimming, Fishing, etc. When I see these people getting the same rush as I do from simply being out of the house I know they really are ‘outdoors’ people…. Maybe they just prefer to sit by the pool than climb a rock – that’s cool.

As I said, I’ve always loved the outdoors, but climbing has kind of elevated it to a new level for me. Honestly there is absolutely nothing better than being 30 or 40 feet up a rock wall and turning around to look over the wonderful views that perspective can give you. And in Great Falls, well it’s just freaking amazing. Blue skies, rushing water, gorgeous rock formations, Herons and King Fishers and other water birds… it’s so wonderfully peaceful that you can’t help but let it’s magic sweep over you and wash away the tiredness and stress of ‘real’ life.

Don’t get me wrong… after a few hours climbing in the heat I am PHYSICALLY exhausted. But I feel better today than I have in weeks. I know now more than I ever have that I need to find a way to make outdoor climbing more of a norm in my life. Given how late the sun stays up at this time of year (and how early it rises) there is really no reason we could not hit up Great Falls or Carderock for a quick weekday climb as well as a longer weekend session. Climbing outside is just so different from climbing in the gym. It’s definitely better – and I think better for you. The ACTIVITY of climbing is great no matter what… but nothing can beat being able to climb in some of the most beautiful areas of the world. I wish I’d actually followed up on the gift certificate I was given AGES ago for a birthday gift and tried climbing 5 or 6 years ago. I didn’t expect to love it the way that I do but I am sure glad that I found it.

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June 18, 2011 Posted by | Climbing, Health & Wellness, Inspiration | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Butterflies

Butterflies have always held a special fascination for me. I don’t know exactly why but for me they represent freedom and transformation. I’ve tried before to articulate what it is about them that capture me and have never really been successful at it. Butterflies have always played a part in the ‘big’ moments in my life. When I graduated from college and started out in the ‘real world’ I had one tattooed on my shoulder blade. For me it represented the moment when I came out of the shell of adolescence and started my adult life. That summer I traveled to England (an amazing gift from my parents) to visit some old family friends. It was the first time I’d been any great distance from home and I did it 100% on my own. It was the scariest and the most amazing experience of my life.

I also have a tendency to sketch butterflies when I can’t concentrate or when something is bothering me. Not to misrepresent myself – I am no artist – but it helps to see even badly drawn butterflies scattered all over the paper in front of me when I need a simple distraction. I don’t collect butterflies or even go seek them out in anyway but if I happen across one I will always stop to watch it’s journey. They are one of the most simple yet beautiful creatures on earth (in my opinion).

In the spring last year I lost a very dear friend of mine, and the day she passed my mom saw a very rare yellow monarch butterfly on her front porch. When she asked me if butterflies meant something to my friend I said no, but that my friend knew they meant a great deal to me. I choose to believe that this butterfly was my friend going to visit my mom in a form she thought my mom would recognize. That may seem superstitious or perhaps a bit extraordinary but the butterfly just hung out all day on my parents porch – which is extremely unusual. Ever since then when I see butterflies I think of my friend and know that she’s watching over me and those that I love. I believe she visits in that form to make sure I know it’s her.

While I was working through the loss another friend called me and said she had a surprise for me. She picked me up and we started driving. She wouldn’t tell me anything at all about where we were going or what we were doing. Turns out she had found a live ‘butterfly exhibit” in MD and thought it might cheer me up to be surrounded by so many. She was right. It was a great day. Since I didn’t know where I was going the only camera I had was on my phone but it took some fabulous photos.

The simplicity of the life of a butterfly and its transformation from caterpillar to beautiful winged creature symbolizes, for me, the way we should move through life. As children and teenagers we struggle to find ourselves. We feel awkward and uncomfortable. We’re never sure of our bodies or our opinions or the direction of our lives. Then suddenly one day we wake up and we realize we truly are beautiful creatures with the entire world at our fingertips. The challenge we have now is to learn to stop and smell the flowers as we bounce from one adventure to the next.

January 15, 2011 Posted by | Inspiration, Random | , , , | 1 Comment