I go on a walk most mornings. Saying ‘goodbye’ to Mama before I slip out the door is part of my son’s morning routine. There are times where this transition is harder than others, but still I go. Whether I have left a peaceful, happy family behind that door or the clashing of emotions, whether I am greeted by sunshine or rain on the other side, I go. I step through that door and take to the woods. I park my car, get out, and carry nothing but myself.
I have learned to be aware my own needs. It has taken a long time and a lot of effort, but I have gotten to know myself well over the past 10 years. I have become acquainted with the way I work and the subtleties of me. Through this I have learned to get up and move, to have quiet, to clear my head and work out thoughts and in doing these things I find myself for that day and become grounded.
Each morning my face reaches to feel the air against it and I feel my heart lift in response. My body moves along the trails and I take in more than I can recall, but feeling influenced and changed by it all: the breeze through the trees, the colors of the forest floor, the call of an owl, a distant foghorn, and light, such interesting light.
Thoughts turn, shift, and evolve along the trail. My spirit does, too.
As I step, quiet hopes, longings, and desires find voice. The stirrings of my heart and movement of my emotions are heard. The intricacies of me, all the details and complexities, are held with care. I hold myself and the knowledge of my own being with compassion, love, and interest.
I go to the woods and become part of that world for a time. Like other creatures, I shed the parts of me that no longer hold life, leaving them to decay and become new life on the forest floor. I come home more alive.
Learning all this has been, and continues to be, a journey. There have been tears over why caring for myself has been a struggle and tears over hope, anticipation, and vulnerability ending in disappointment and missed opportunity. Yet I move forward, because as I care for myself, I see more of myself open up. I see the love that my family has for me and I offer a deeper and purer love in return. I am fully in this and I give my heart to my family the only way I know how, the only way I really want to, I give it completely. I know that this can be a challenge; what is in this heart of mine is sometimes messy. And so, for myself and for them, I am conscious about where I am and what I need. I am aware each day when we wake, step into each others lives and live that day, that I want to bring a full person, a full heart to this beloved gathering. I want to bring life.
So, I walk.