It's winter. A time of year in the northern hemisphere where days are short, vitamin D is lacking, I feel like hibernating, but modern life expects us to keep a summer's pace... a time where hope and self care are much needed friends. So I wrote this poem. Leave a comment or share this with a friend if you can relate. I think talking about these things help.
Do I do Forest School for the children? Or do I do it for me?
I step into the forest and it feels almost like stepping into a different world.
I can feel my body and mind adjusting to the environment.
I came here by car, packing it with “stuff” we might need while we’re out.
Emergency kits with first aid and spare clothing should anyone get wet or cold.
Materials that could help us build and make things, like rope and twine.
Maybe some cooking pots and a kettle in case we have a fire and wish to share some food, sometimes made with ingredients we gather from the forest.
Nettles. Dandelion greens. Maple tree sap.
We play with this forest each week, as do many others.
(Mostly beings of non human form).
So we make sure to take out all that we bring in each time we visit.
I might have packed that car in a hurry, checking the time, worrying about being late.
Wanting to be sure I’m prepared for the children’s arrival.
My mind is racing, listing everything I need, the “plan” for the day.
What am I forgetting?
It’s also filled with thoughts of things that happened yesterday and this morning.
Of hours spent staring at a computer screen or phone.
In order to get "work done."
And bills paid.
And futures planned.
I feel more connected to websites, emails addresses, and font types than I do the ground beneath my feet.
I'm also creating a to do list for when I’ll get home later.
The things I've yet to get done and are piling up like a basket of dirty laundry.
Oh ya, that's right. I also need to do the laundry.
I notice the tenseness in my body, maybe even quickened breathing, but I try to ignore it.
This is just “normal life.”
The hustle and bustle from one thing to another.
The everpresent baseline feeling of stress that’s ignored.
Don’t be late.
I make myself focus. Ok I’ve got it all, I’m ready.
Let’s go to the forest.
It's takes a bit of time.
The adjustment of body and mind to this environment.
This one with trees and birds, green leaves or snow covered branches, sunshine or freezing cold rain.
It's never the same and requires noticing. Observation.
What's different? What will I need today? To stay warm, to stay dry, to stay safe?
I pay attention to my body. How does it feel? Cold? Hot? Just right?
I make decisions on whether to add or remove a layer of clothing based on that.
Attention paid to the needs of my own body.
A moment I don't take for granted.
Then I look around.
I notice a new mushroom that wasn't there last week.
Or a woodpecker up in a tree.
Or a squirrel who's chattering away noisily on a branch over my head. Probably announcing to all the other creatures in the forest that I've arrived.
Even if I feel alone, I'm reminded.
I'm never really alone.
Along with the mushroom, woodpecker, and squirrel, I notice if there's anything we should pay attention to today.
Did a tree fall?
Is it icy?
Are there animal tracks in the snow or mud?
To be aware.
To stay safe.
To learn from.
I realize my body has started to relax.
My breathing slowed down.
My mind clearer.
My heart lighter.
The corners of my mouth uplifted.
I feel more connected to the ground beneath my feet than I do websites, emails addresses, and font types.
I say I do this for the children. But do I? Do I really?
No. That's not the whole picture.
Because they haven't even arrived at the forest yet.
I do this for me.
And that's not uncaring. Inconsiderate. Or selfish.
For me. And for the children.
Poem style and content inspired by The Mushroom Hunters by Neil Gaiman and Radical Self-Care for People Who Give a Damn by Molly McConnell