A Walk in the Woods

walkinthewoods

Sometimes there’s only one thing that works to bring sanity back into my life, energy back into my soul, and balance back into my body—and that is a walk in the woods.

It doesn’t have to be a perfect day or the right season, because it’s not about being entertained or impressed. It’s about finding and re-finding peacefulness and focus. It’s about regenerating my soul.

This past weekend was just such a time. I was well rested and well fed and not too stressed out about anything in particular, but I just couldn’t seem to find my focus. My brain felt scattered, kind of like the kitchen after Thanksgiving dinner. Sure, gratitude and thankfulness are important, but sometimes I need something more…and so out I went into the cold woods.

The leaves crunched under my boots. The sun was bright in my eyes. There was a strange smell, something like sulfur. With all the leaves down, the woods were a tangled mess and the brambles and seeds stuck to my clothes. The paths were littered with downed trees and overgrown grasses and a mess of twigs. But it didn’t matter because with each step, the mess inside began to organize.

The woods anytime, but especially in winter, are a reminder that it’s no use trying to control anything because you will always lose control. But in that surrender, the magic of regeneration unfolds. It’s the dance of decomposition and growth, disorder and insanely complicated—yet beautiful—order.

It’s also important just to sit out in the woods. To listen. I heard ducks and geese flying. I heard the highway, even though it was miles away. But the most important thing I heard was the voice inside me reminding me what I needed to do next and what was most important. OK, I also heard my dog freaking out with happiness at being able to run wild in the woods. You don’t want to see what she does to the house if I try and go out without her.

But eventually, it’s time to return to that house, and just a little walk in the woods later everything seems to be more manageable, more prioritized, more balanced.

You don’t need your own woods to get the benefits of a walk. Any old park will do. Although Sundays are safest this time of year, since it’s hunting season (therefore, it’s good to wear orange).

So, if you’re feeling a bit scattered, stressed, depressed, or just plain out of balance, dress appropriately (preferably with layers) and get out there. You’ll feel better in no time.

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8 Responses to A Walk in the Woods

  1. Donna in Delaware December 9, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    When I want to be alone with my thoughts, I go to Longwood Gardens and just walk every inch of the ground. It’s not the woods per se, but it’s a good second. Where I live is also beautiful, not overly built-up and a bit wild, but there is a peacefulness at Longwood that refreshes my soul. When I am done walking, I feel happy, content, mellow and have things in perspective again. Even with others walking about, you can lose yourself in your thoughts while wandering. It’s so mentally and physically therapeutic. It’s a beautiful feeling.

  2. Alice Green December 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm #

    Living in a small, old town, rubbing elbows with the big City of Denver, it might sound strange, but when I need to find my best self – I drive into the heart of Denver to the Botanic Gardens. It has everything I love, lots of trees, flowers, rocks, birds, quiet, beauty and peace. Regardless of the time of year, I can get lost in the midst of healing nature – right in the middle of a huge city. And from the parking lot I can sit and fill my soul with the breath-taking sight of snow capped mountains, and drive home in a state of bliss!

  3. Patty December 9, 2013 at 2:24 pm #

    Maria…I so enjoy your words. Not long ago, I found your blogsite, and now I read every word. It’s nice to know that there seems to be a kindrid soul in you, no matter how far apart we are. I live in a small town in Indiana, an hours drive to Chicagoland, and just a couple of miles from the beaches of Lake Michigan. The Indiana Dunes State Park is but 2 miles to the north of me as is the beach. Lovely walks on the shore keep me happy. The serene beauty of the State Park and it’s walking trails are such a plus. Most folks here do not enjoy our beautiful land, missing so much. I find that amazing. I make up of them. Your article here, A Walk in the Woods, is special to me. Thank you for sharing yourself with us, so many of us out here. Patty

  4. renee December 9, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Thanks very much for this post. I’ve found that even a walk around the neighborhood settles me; centers me and can give me a break from the relentlessness of “the next” to-do list thing. Love parks; love trails but the sidewalk can be a good option, too.

  5. robin heydenberk December 10, 2013 at 8:12 am #

    SO TRUE! it is medicinal & magic 😀

  6. Laura Jo K December 10, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

    Totally agree.

  7. sue lemure December 11, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    Nothing works like a walk in the woods.I used to do this everyday. One day, while walking i got a gut feel..strong that i was not safe :(…..And i cannot gind a walking buddy, someone of like mind that would be nice..BUT I can’t find anyone. so frustrating.

  8. sue lemure December 11, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    I’ll keep trying..

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