January ushered in more than a new year. It also brought with it unexpected challenges in the forms of death, illness, and being visited by the ghosts of mental health issues past, sky-high anxiety and mild depression. I was more than ready for the start of February to get 2015 back on a positive track, but unfortunately, some of January’s issues have been renewed for February, leaving me feeling like I continue to get repeatedly run over on said track. So, after a week of feeling overwhelmed by worries and stressors, both real and imagined, and dissolving in tears on a daily basis, I decided to run away.
Temperatures more befitting of spring instead of the middle of winter lured me back to the trails for my first two trail runs of the new year, and I did more than stay on my feet, as I navigated the mud, dead leaves, tree roots, and other debris that littered my path. On these trail runs, I was a willing and eager student who soaked up the lessons time spent lost in nature presented to me, and here are five of those lessons that I plan to take with me off of the trails:
- Before hitting the trails, adequately prepare. When I get ready to trail run, I have a checklist that I go through before making my way out the door. Proper running gear and shoes-check. Fully charged iPod-check. Water bottle-check. Drivers license-check. Debit card or cash for emergencies-check. Spare house and car keys-check. Once I make sure that I have everything I need, I am ready to take off running. I have made intentions and plans for taking care of myself and coping with life’s challenges, yet once made, I shelved them and have been on autopilot for most of the last six weeks. I need to revisit my plans, in order to prepare for both setbacks and comebacks, each and every day, not just one time. Adequate exercise, proper nutrition, enough sleep, time to meditate, and so on are all ways I can prepare, and so, that’s what I will do.
- Don’t be afraid to go it alone. As outgoing and social as I am, I run alone. Always. I take the necessary safety measures, and I run in solitude. I have discovered that I truly enjoy my own company and can create moments of pure bliss without anyone else present. It doesn’t feel lonely; it feels liberating, much like it does when I spend time by myself in my own home. Not having a significant other in my life is a void I would like to fill with the right person at the right time, but it doesn’t have to be an abyss in the meantime.
- When setting off down the trail, make sure the soundtrack in your mind is playing a positive message. While some people prefer to run in silence, I am not one of those people. When I run, I listen to music to motivate me and keep me company, and it also quiets the negative chatter that sometimes plays on an endless loop in my mind. There are times when I don’t even really hear the music, but this weekend, I heard Eddie Vedder singing such lyrics as:“I know I was born, and I know that I’ll die. The in between is mine. I am mine.”
“Run away my son. See it all. Oh, see the world.”
“I changed by not changing at all.”
“I’ll ride the wave where it takes me. I’ll hold the pain. Release me.”
When I am at a loss for positive or inspirational words to replace the negative ones that take up valuable real estate in my head, it helps to know that the words of others exist that resonate with me and heal me. When Eddie sang, I listened and was all the better for it!
- Just keep going. Thanks to recent heavy rains, the trails were the muddiest that I ever have seen them, making the trails slippery and sloppy. With every step, mud quickly caked my shoes and added extra weight to them, and I had to watch my every step. Rather than interrupt my run to try to clean my shoes off, I decided to just keep going. Sure enough, along the way, gravity and force dislodged the mud, leaving me feeling lighter and more agile for the remainder of my run. The problem took care of itself, which reminded me that I do not always need to “fix” things, as letting some situations unfold is all that is needed.
- Run; don’t over think it. When I trail run, I never worry about what could go wrong. I don’t judge myself harshly. I don’t compare myself to anyone else. I run for myself, and when I take time to do things that engage and nurture my body, mind, baby soul, and spirit, I never regret it. Never. I got out of my own way, and I allowed my body and mind to work together to create a perfect rhythm for a fantastic run.
My trail runs are now over, but my hurts-so-good aching muscles and these reflections are reminders of the old and new lessons I discovered and rediscovered this weekend. The challenges that I have been dealing with remain, but at this moment, I feel better equipped to face them and to take much better care of myself in the process. These simple lessons for what can seem to be a complicated and chaotic life are just what I needed to be a trailblazer in my own life. So, off I go.
Just one thing each day . . .