When I was a little girl, my mom and I lived with my grandparents for a while. I spent lots of time outside at their house and loved every moment. They had pecan and fig trees that were always full and inviting. I tried climbing them many times but couldn't get up there. So, I focused on what they produced. I was fascinated by the limbs, the leaves, and the figs or pecans. What grew from them kept me near them. Digging up the dirt and finding the roots intrigued me too. How could these big trees grow so tall? How could they possibly produce these figs and pecans I loved so much? When they danced to the rhythm of the wind, I moved along with them. They told a story. I know that sounds "too deep," but it's true.
It's been years since I've lived in the country, but I always try to schedule time for what I call "offline sunshine." It's a time when my family and I disconnect from the busyness of our everyday lives. We silence notifications, switch our phones to silent, and keep texting at a minimum. Now, phones are allowed on our little nature excursions because I have to capture the beauty of it all. But I've trained myself to capture and contain my phone so I don't get tempted to "check" it. Besides, the habit of "checking" traps me and pulls me in. Thankfully, I've gotten better with that.
I have been experiencing an enormous amount of stress lately. It's not abnormal to feel stress when lots of changes are happening at the same time. And trust me, we are going through lots of changes at the same time at home. Although they are beautiful changes, they can still be hard to adapt to. What you know life to be is changing, and for those of us who experience anxiety, this can be challenging. So, we went to the trees to breathe amongst all God has created for us.
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature, and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature. …I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” – Anne Frank
Last weekend, we decided that "offline sunshine" was necessary and mandatory. It had been months since we took some time to disconnect and get lost in the beauty of nature. Our last trip was to South Padre, which was PERFECT. The breeze, water, sand, and wind made everything feel as if life would be grand forever. But, with this trip, it was important that I return to some trees. Just the thought of watching the wind move the trees and listening to them rustle brought me joy. I craved to feel the grass beneath my feet and to hear water streaming. I mean, the only streaming we all experience these days are live-streaming and streaming movies, so it was a needed switch-up. Being around trees always brings me back to my childhood. It's a great feeling.
We had the pleasure of sleeping, eating, and engaging as a family in cabin #9. When we pulled up, I knew it would be the weekend we needed. It's funny because when I told the kids we were camping and sleeping in a cabin, they joked that we would experience a scene in a movie where Michael Meyers makes an appearance. Now, they should know me better than that. Instead, cabin #9 welcomed us with space to move freely, an A/C and heater, a private hot shower, a full-sized refrigerator, two huge porches, comfy beds, a smart TV, and light fixtures I would have loved to bring home. It felt like home, and it was magical. I know it's not a description of the nature we went there to experience, but the cabin was nice.
We created memories for three days. First, we roasted marshmallows outside over the firepit. Our smores were messy, but they were delicious. Next, we cooked on a grill, went fishing, and explored every insect and tree out there. Even though we did not catch one fish, the experience was priceless. Watching the kids put bait on their hooks and learn to throw their line out in the water was comical and cute. Finally, cabin #9 was the sacred space we used to share all we had experienced in the trees together. The conversations, games, laughter, and revelations about our lives all happened at the table.
Man, my wheels started turning. I looked around at my family and thought about how blessed we were to have each other. I thought about how connected we all are. When one or two of us start feeling overwhelmed, we all feel it and find a way to retreat or reset together. It's always been important to my husband and me to create a space for the kids to breathe. But we need to breathe too. I'm grateful we can do it together.
So, what were the moving revelations in cabin #9?
I want to move away from the traffic, noise, and busyness of it all. I want to live near trees, away from the demands of technology, and in a quiet space that welcomes movement and a chance to experience the opportunity to BE. I love people but get drained from peopling. I want to cut down on meetings and clear my calendar for more time to create. I love beautiful neighborhoods but don't want to live in one. A house away from the street with at least an acre between our neighbors and us sounds more fitting. I want to homeschool my littles. I want to teach them what they need to know and allow them to explore what they want to know. I want to travel. I want to visit places that inspire me - places I can write about. I need life to slow down so I can breathe in each moment. I want to live near trees—lots of them.
Yes, that means I want country living. Although, years away from attempting to climb trees, I still enjoy digging up dirt. As a plant lover, I love watching them grow, repotting them, admiring their roots, and then witnessing what they produce. I'll never lose my love and amazement of watching things grow. And I think it's because I have grown tremendously over the past three years. I've changed, and I am sometimes unrecognizable to myself. But I love it, and I'm moved by the revelation that I am not the same person I used to be. I'm at peace with it, and that's the best part of the revelation.
The beauty of growth is I'm not done. I still have more growing to do, and living quietly amongst the trees is the space I need to continue to do the work.
As you're growing through your life experiences, what have you learned about yourself? How have you changed? What is different about you?