Anxiety, Humor, Life, Menopause

Walking Away From It All

When the quarantine began back in March, I began walking in one of the many forest preserves we have near our home. We are lucky to have many nature preserves that our county sets aside to take care of nature in a very unnatural suburban area, especially when the housing boom began in the late eighties/early nineties.

I would drive by these places all of the time over the past 25 years and think how pretty they were; some of them I would walk in with my friends when my daughters were small and were riding in strollers. But since everything closed up here in quarantine, the preserves were my sanctuaries to get out of the house and explore.

It was around my 50th birthday when I decided I would make myself a challenge: I wanted to visit most if not all of the forest preserves within the Chicago and Milwaukee area during my 50th year.

At first, it was just a challenge to myself (and my husband) to get ourselves out of the house and force ourselves to discover new places, maybe lose a little weight, and get into shape.

But as the weeks turned into months, it became more than that.

It saved my life.

For me, it eventually became a migraine coping tool.

It was a place to pray, to cry alone, to look up at the skies and talk to God, to my relatives who have passed, to the birds and the creatures along the paths.

I love that I feel like I have been on a vacation every time I return home from our walks. I feel like I have been to a faraway place, far away from every single horrible thing we are going through.

Some days I don’t even want to go for a walk. Some days I think I can’t go for a walk. Some days, it takes everything I can to put one foot in front of the other.

I shuffle to the bathroom, I shuffle to the coffee maker, I shuffle to the closet. I shuffle to put my shoes on.

Every single day feels like the one before it.

I feel like I am wading through gelatin.

Trying to get to the next day and the next and the next.

There isn’t enough distraction in our days.

There isn’t enough interaction with our loved ones, with our friends and family.

And the interaction we are getting is behind a mask, following arrows in a store, keeping six feet of distance between us.

Or behind a computer screen or phone screen with visual images that are violent or filled with vitriol and images or words we might never utter in person.

It’s so much to absorb. I can feel it in my shoulders, in my arms, in my head.

Then I get out here.

I smell the pine, I see a flower, I hear the birds, the Earth sighing around me.

I hear another person pass by and say good morning. I wonder if I am the first person they’ve said hi to that day.

Is that the first time they’ve heard their voice out loud that morning?

Are they as glad to see another human being as I am?

Are they as scared as I am about the future?

I’ve walked over 50 miles since the middle of March when my world became smaller.

I have left the woods feeling like I had hours of therapy without having to pay a single dime out of my pocket except for the gas money it took to get me there.

And I have hope.

That I can get up and muddle through another long day.

That today will be better than yesterday.

And even if it isn’t, I know I have that walk to cry and pray and feel like I went on a vacation away from my life for a little bit before I do it all over again.

And again.

And again.

16 thoughts on “Walking Away From It All”

  1. Love the pictures. Love that you are escaping everything and exploring these beautiful trails. I walk the same exact walk every day. Boring, yes- but I rely on the predictability of being close to home in case the natives get restless . . . and my chauffeur abilities are sometimes needed. I will live thru your pictures. Even though I walk in the same neighborhoods, I do the same thing . . . look for guidance, pray, reflect. Fortunately I do not have to cope with migraine pain. Glad your adventures have taken you ‘away’. We all need that!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is how I feel when walking in nature too; it’s such a calming sensation for me! (though I have no idea how many miles we’ve walked)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My sweet friend. I am so happy that you have this type of refuge for your sanity, body, and soul.
    I know you’ve been struggling with the migraines which only makes everything else in the world more exuberant; and I’m so sorry for that.
    Walking in nature is one of the best things we can do for ourselves…especially when we feel that connection with our people who are no longer on the earth with us.
    Wishing you health and more peace in the coming weeks….lord knows we all need that.


  4. You are not alone in your solitary walks and talks. I agree we have many beautiful places in this part of the country so I love the goal you set for yourself. If you hear another person talking to themselves and crying at the state of the world don’t be afraid it’s just me doing the same thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with you about how difficult it can be to want to get going in the morning when the days all blend into one. However, walks like the one you featured here are worth getting up for. Nature is healing.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This. Post.


    So beautifully written. And I couldn’t identify with a lot of it. I haven’t been on a walk in one of our beautiful forest preserves in weeks. I need to remedy that.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Man, I wish I could take one of those walks with you. I totally relate to the feeling that every day is like the next. I have been feeling more like I’m swimming in jello than wading through it. Nearing the end of my second week (officially) away from work, and I think I’m about to break through the surface again. Moving my body has been key. Getting away from the screen has been, too. (Sorry I’ve been a little MIA.) I’m so glad you have these walks, and that you’re feeling hope about migraine treatment. Sending you love and healing vibes.

    Liked by 1 person

      I miss my friends so much. I just melted this morning to Anna because she is still seeing her friends but I haven’t really been seeing mine enough and it’s hard. I also haven’t been spending much time with my parents either because of fear of getting them sick. It’s too much, I need these people in my life and my mental health is taking a beating. But thank GOD for the walks. 🙂


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