Yesterday was a difficult day for me, mentally. I wanted to spend the day working on the garden; digging and turning the beds, and dividing and moving plants. I’m putting a vegetable garden in, and moving my perennials elsewhere. What I thought would be a relatively simple job is turning out to be way more than I’m physically capable of, and that’s really frustrating to me.
Knowing my failed spinal fusion and chronic pain were not up to a day full of gardening, I suggested we go on a nature hike, as we do each weekend. Both guys were into it, and it was the perfect sweatshirt weather for one.
I filled the water bottles, grabbed our masks and packed up some snacks. We were off. We took a different way into the woods than normal, and I thought we were close to turning around… then the boy asked if we could go on a salamander hunt. When asked if I was up for it, I gave a halfhearted “sure”, thinking we were only going to venture a little off track.
Our hike was 13,568 steps or 5.86 miles, according to my Fitbit. My body feels it. It’s a good hurt, an ache of accomplishment. I have to be careful though, as I’m known to compulsively exercise, pushing myself much further than I should. These hikes can lay me out for a few days- so I try to keep moving throughout the week. My family thinks I’m crazy, as does my doctor. But all seem to understand this works for me. I have to keep moving or I seize up.
See, physically I shouldn’t be hiking like this. Mentally though, I need it. If I don’t get out and exercise daily, I can’t concentrate or follow through with tasks. It’s this nervous energy that has to be burned off. I think it’s part of why I understand my son so well. He is the same way. If we hike, he’s not hyperactive. If we don’t, he is all over the place.
Another bonus to getting out in nature for me is that I’m able to think things through. I haven’t had a telehealth appointment with my therapist in a handful of weeks, as my insurance has been switched, and he doesn’t accept my new plan. In place of that missing link, I’ve had to be much more self reliant; thinking things through for myself, as well as being more open with my husband.
See, in the past, I’d keep my mental illness musings to therapy alone, and my marriage separate. My husband is incredibly devoted, and willing to do just about anything to help me, but I oftentimes am too embarrassed to let him in. These past few weeks have changed that, and it’s freeing to finally open up to him.
I realized yesterday on our walk that I was grumpy because I knew I couldn’t do that which I wanted – to garden. However, instead of having a misplaced meltdown, I thought it through, on my own. Once I’d realized that, and accepted it, I found it much easier to enjoy our hike. I even found lady slipper orchids on our walk! They are so rare around here- and super exciting to find!
When we returned home, I had the chance to sink my hands in the dirt. I dug some plants, divided a Hosta, and turned a portion of the bed. It’s not even a third of the way complete, but I decided to work on it in small stages. A little bit each day, that way I’m not hurting myself too much.
Pre-back injury and surgery, I’d spend a day down in the garden: weeding, digging and amending the soil. Even with a healthy back, I’d be down a day or two with all the physical work. I could never do that now.
My new plan is to make this a mother – son garden. He’s always been such a big help in years past, I know this year will be even better. I can’t wait to see him eat his first Sungold tomato fresh from the vine. There’s something magical about witnessing it 💕