A walk in the woods or how to shift from muddy feelings to meaning

I’ve been having a rather difficult time lately, so difficult that upon hearing me, my family doctor told me that it seemed to her that I was symbolicaly trapped in mud. Probably it’s just the spring asthenia, somebody else told me. Or perhaps the wear-off following the first year of motherhood, which beside all the goodness, exciting changes and awe, brought also a mountain of accumulated sleep deprivation and various challenges.

Whatever it is, I’m having a hard time to shake it off. It’s not that I can snap my fingers and here it is, a new me, just as I would sometimes like to happen. I have not found a miraculous recipe, as some claim. There are just things that work or don’t work depending on everyone’s circumstances.

I recently went for an organised walk in the woods. I was searching both the therapeutical effect of the nature, as I needed to recharge, but also to connect with a group of women who perhaps confronted with similar struggles. When we share our struggles in a non-judgemental way, we tend to feel less lonely and more supported, even if we don’t always get alternatives or concrete solutions.

I arrived late, following a ridicoulously short night, the third in a row that week, and for some reason, I had the wrong address in the GPS. The group of women that I was supposed to meet was actually 20 minutes away from where I had parked. I moved the car and after driving for another 15 minutes and getting stuck in traffic, in an attempt to get closer to the side of the woods where the group of ladies was having a stroll, I finally parked the car. On my phone’s GPS, the live location of the host seemed to be within a 10 minute walk through the forest. Let’s go!

Whilst trying to walk faster in order to catch the group, my eyes caught the glimpse of a muddy pond, probably formed due to the past rain. The cloudy clayish water was surrounded by layers of mud, branches that looked deserted and dried and decomposed leaves. « Here is my muddy swamp », I thought.

It seemed that I could contemplate for real the muddy swamp that I was trying to cross and which was keeping me rather stuck in frustration.

And as I was looking at it, I noticed that I was focusing particularly on the cloudy water and the mud around it, and no longer noticing what it was around it.

When I expanded my focus a bit further, I noticed that this muddy little swamp was surrounded by trees, some naked, craving for their foliage, and some dressed already in a fresh spring green leaves. I expanded my focus further and I noticed the clear sky and the playful rays of sun. The muddy swamp was no longer on its own, but part of a bigger picture. It actually looked beautiful and made sense. It had been raining a lot, and lots of rain means also mud and puddles. The spring is not just clear sky, blossoming trees and colourful flowers. It is also cold, rain, gray sky and desolating days, just like any transition.

I continued to walk and after the 10 minutes, when my GPS announced me triumphally: « you have reached your destination », I got dissapointed. There was no group of women in that particular location, just a guy comfortably laid back on a bench, enjoying the sun light just as reptile would do, while listening to Pink Floid at the speakers that he had brought with him. His dog was running around and he seemed the most laid back person in the world, while I could have candidated for the most annoyed person in the woods title.

The group I was trying to reach was in a continuous movement and reality was that as I was walking, they were walking too, which meant I needed to be significantly faster than them. When I updated the GPS, it turned out that the group was 11 minutes away from my location. In thsese conditions, I was unlikely to reach them. It was like I was trying to reach an objective that kept modifying, becoming more and more distant and requiring more and more effort, without getting any satisfaction, recognition or acknowledgment in return. I wish I were more like that laid-back guy.

I got discouraged. I did not know what to do. I was already more than 40 minute late, and because of that, angry with myself, and the more I was trying to get closer, the further the group was moving away. Shall I return home? Had I just put all that effort for nothing? Yes, I could have just continued to walk on my own, at a slower pace, but this option was not appealing to me. I did not want to give up the purpose of the day: walk in the woods with women alike.

In the end, I contacted the host who agreed to stop for a while, therefore I managed to reach them. Yes, I was very late. Yes, I was tired by that abrupt walk and particularly by my inner struggle, and yes I was satisfied. Somehow I had shifted from the muddy frustration and discouragement to the green of the leaves, a clear sky and, most importantly, cheerful and meaningful conversations.

Author: Gabriela D. Spencer

I support you to Balance your overall Well-being, be it physical, emotional, relational or social through Life Coaching and Laughter Yoga. My aim is to ‘support you to help yourself’ as you are the only expert of your life. My interests include positive psychology, body-mind balancing techniques, stress management, well-being and connecting with one’s inner child. I am a Multi-potential and an ISFP (according to the latest tests, but who knows). I write and express myself whenever my mind is bursting with thoughts and emotions. Read me mostly in Romanian and sometimes in English.

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