Realistic Positivity: A Force of Nature
Updated: May 4
Welcome! If you read my "About" page, you might be thinking, "Wow. You do quite a lot of activities. You can't possibly be someone who struggles with depression and anxiety." That would appear to be the case. However, those examples are merely the peaks on my life's landscape. The valleys are those days spent shuttered inside my home, unable to even step outside due to an overwhelming and debilitating funk; the hours spent hovering inside my camper struggling to muster the energy to step outside and greet the Nature that I so adore; or the days when upon waking, I wish I hadn't. Yes. The lowest point in the valley is indeed low. Admittedly, the COVID environment has magnified the valleys and made the peaks so much more difficult to reach. However, with God's grace, I keep climbing out of bed each day. I'm very fortunate to have a strong support system in the form of a life-long partner who has shared in all the highs and lows with unwavering love and encouragement. I also have a cherished bundle of unconditional love and joy - my unofficial emotional support dog, Maddie. I realize that not everyone is so fortunate.
My situation isn't unique. There are millions of people in this world with similar feelings, challenges, etc. Each of them are at varying levels of success at finding their way along a difficult path. One day they're climbers. The next day they're rock-dwellers, retreating into the shadows to recharge and regroup. Forums like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc. provide us with thousands of photos of "happy" campers blissfully scaling mountains; or canoeing on a smooth, glacial lake while a light glows in their tent on the shore; or snorkeling with sea turtles under turquoise Bahamian waters. Pretty pictures and pretty sentiments. But that's not reality for most of us. Those images portray someone else's perception of a Utopia. Of happiness. Although such images can provide helpful diversions, albeit momentary, it's vital for us to create our own healthy (and real) escapes. To find things that bring us out from under our rocks, out into the light, to enjoy the brief time we've been given on this amazing planet.
For as long as I can remember, I've found solace in the outdoors. So, it's no wonder that nature immersion would be one of my main coping mechanisms. I practiced "forest bathing" long before it was trendy. As a child, I spent most of my time outdoors, catching tadpoles and crawfish in a nearby creek, climbing trees, riding my bike everywhere, lying in the grass and listening to the crickets, and only going indoors when my mom called me inside in the evenings or when the streetlights came on. Throughout my adult life, I've found the greatest peace, momentarily silencing the persistent monkey-mind, in outdoor activities like hiking, camping, gardening, stargazing, and photography.
This blog is for those of you who are fellow rock-dwellers and have a true love of and are recharged by the outdoors. On these pages, I'll share my observations, musings, opinions, and real accounts of struggles and triumphs. I'll share my excursions. I'll share my time under the rock along with some of my coping mechanisms and resources. I'll certainly share my love of nature, inviting you along to walk the path beside me. This blog will not speak to medical diagnoses and treatments, medications, or flashpoint topics of the day like politics, social justice issues, religion, etc. It may touch on spirituality. As how can a person truly experience the awesome beauty of nature without acknowledging the spiritual aspect of it?
I'm not an expert in anything but my own experiences. There are hundreds of blogs offering advice about living with depression and anxiety and offering insights on coping skills, etc. There are just as many outdoor blogs that provide "expert" advice on towing a camper, pitching a tent, starting a fire, cooking a gourmet meal using your spit and your pocketknife, etc. I'm not foolish or pretentious enough to think I can add to that expertise. However, if I discover something that might benefit someone, I'll certainly share it.
My ultimate goal is to attain some level of realistic positivity while, of course, maintaining a realistic expectation of meeting that goal. Sometimes, the journey truly is one step forward and two steps back. However, if this blog resonates with just one person and sparks a curiosity about nature, fosters a love for the outdoors, and encourages them to take the first of many steps outside, even if only onto their front porch, then it's worthwhile.
So there it is. A roadmap for the journey ahead. It's not set in stone, nor is it predictable. Some of my most memorable travel experiences have been down unplanned roads and not a part of the scheduled trip itinerary. I hope you will share the journey with me. Perhaps, we can find comfort in each other's tales.
There's always a seat by the campfire for you.
“Over every mountain there is a path, although it may not be seen from the valley.” - Theodore Roeth