We delighted in finding the ghostly Indian pipes emerging from the soil and watching the ferns unfurl in the Spring. The earthy, sweet green scent of ferns is still a favorite of mine along with soil that has been gently disturbed. Soon, my sisters and I had a few paths established in our little woods and we felt quite adventurous if we ventured to where the house wasn’t really visible through the foliage. Our dolls would occasionally accompany us and we had a favorite log that became a living room couch, and a rock a stovetop. Purple inkberries made a colorful stew mixed in an ice-ream bucket with a few leafy additions, and some crushed acorns for protein. We never tried our concoction; the fun was in the pretending and creating. Sometimes we’d find orange spotted newts, odd-looking beetles, and once, tp my sister’s horror, an entire nest of yellow jackets. Many hours were spent picking wild blackberries (these we did eat!), climbing pine trees, creating blanket houses, and seeing how quietly we could walk through the woods. Sweet and wonderful memories!
Then , somewhere along the way, as life often goes, I got busy, too busy. It was with good things like friends, a boyfriend (yes, I married him), jobs, and school. The days of make-believe ad playing house, looking for wood elves, and swinging on wild vines slowly morphed into the reality of a real house with a mortgage and bills, having babies and raising children, going to college, starting a career, and then working 1-3 jobs at a time for too many years. Life became more about staying afloat than feeling alive. Depression was a beast and anxiety it’s nasty companion. I spent too much time under their shadow, not knowing that there was help to come back to the land of the truly living. Once I had the help I needed, the person I was meant to began to slowly emerge.
I feel like the person I am today is a result of my experiences as a child, the years spent struggling mentally and emotionally, and the steps I have taken since to not allow anxiety and depression to take over again. The past three years have been an exploration of learning to take care of myself physically, and in turn, I saw how it affected my mental state of being.
Getting outdoors to walk, then deciding I could be a runner, and now adding hiking and eventually backpacking with the goal of doing all 70 miles of the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail next year, is my therapy. I feel like I have come out of the shadows and am living more fully then I would’ve ever thought possible when I was a little girl in the woods making inkberry soup.
I have tasted life and it is good!
I know I have posted a lot of my runs, my hikes, and other fitness adventures on Facebook. The reason I do this is to hopefully encourage others to get out there too. If 50 year old, fluffy Dianne, who was NEVER an athlete, and not particularly graceful, can get out there, so can you. Find what you love, what brings joy, and do it.