School is back in session and the day stretches out before me. Then the realization hits, “I HAVE THE WHOLE DAY TO MYSELF!” While I enjoy hiking with my family, I also enjoy hiking alone. There is something hypnotic about the sound of nature and the steady rhythm of my footfalls.
I’m a better parent when I treat myself to a solitary hike. I have time to think or not think while I am hiking. It is quiet time for my brain. There are no interruptions unless it is a darting warbler or the thrum of a pileated woodpecker against the bark of a tree. No one is asking me questions. No one is talking. No one needs me. No crises to manage. There are only the sounds of nature and my footfalls.
Hiking for me is like yoga or mediation. I do yoga but usually with two kids and two dogs trying to help. As for mediation, I was never good at sitting still, mentally or physically. However, on the trail and moving—I feel a sense of peace and belonging that I only experience when I’m striding along alone with my thoughts and the sounds of locusts. That sense of peace replenishes me and I am a better person because I took time for myself.
I used to feel guilty taking a hike by myself. But I learned it isn’t selfish to take time just for me. I see so many parents, especially mothers, who totally dedicate every moment of their lives to their children. I used to be that person. I used to be frazzled and worn out. Now, I realize taking time for me isn’t selfish. That it is the best thing I can do for my children because it makes me a better mom.
We all need time alone. Time to meditate. Time to reconnect with who we really are. Time to find our strengths. Taking a few minutes for yourself and replenishing your peace is important and necessary. It is no different than the safety instructions on a plane. Put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then help those around you.
If you’d like some ideas on where to hike, just send me a Facebook message and tell me what you are looking for in a hike and I’ll help you find a trail that suits your needs.
* And, if you haven’t Googled it yet, Pensatoio is an Italian word for somewhere to think or thinking place.