Being self-employed is a roller-coaster ride. Sure, on the up side I get to set my own hours, work from home, take time off. On the downside, my income is unpredictable and I have nail-biting months when I am not sure that the bills will get paid. I am constantly looking for new clients, and often feel as if I am living hand to mouth. Some days are like this.
This past week has been a bear. I am on the hate side of my love-hate relationship with my job. Yesterday my stress level hit critical mass and I decided to follow some of my own advice. I am constantly telling my daughter not to worry about things she can’t change, and take action on the things she can, and don’t worry about things that “might” happen. Easy advice to give, hard to follow.
I appreciate the saying “Let go and let God.” This can be any god, or as I like to think of it, universal energy for good. I find that when I can actually do this, stop feeling like I am clawing my way up an impossibly steep hill, or running just to stand still – if I can allow myself to think, “Everything will be okay, things always work out, I am going to let go and trust the universe,” my life begins to move and change for the better. But like I said, it’s a hard thing to do.
So yesterday, frustrated with the term, “Let go and Let God,” I decided to “Let go and Let Dog.” Having reached my limit of endurance at 4:00 pm, I decided to quit work for the day. (One of the good things about working for myself.) I headed downstairs, cracked open a craft beer from the fridge, gave one to my daughter (she’s 23) and asked my husband to drive us out to the Gunpowder river with the dogs for a little game of what I like to call “river block.”
The game consists of me standing downstream from the lazier of my two cattle dogs. I throw the block upstream. Dog catches it in her mouth. Dog drops it into the river. Block floats down to me. Repeat as necessary until one of us gets bored. I love how simply a dog lives in the moment. It is a very Zen practice, this river block.
I have read that being out in nature for as little as 15 minutes can significantly reduce your stress level. I wholeheartedly endorse this. When we arrived, I turned off my phone and left it off for the rest of the day. As we approached the small stream that feeds the larger river, I was filled with the smells of loamy damp earth, wet rocks, and wild roses. The stream is shallow and cool. The rocks that form the streambed are smooth and flat and shiny with mica. I spent some time making stacked stone sculptures just for the creative fun of it.
As I made my way alone down the stream to where it joined the river (which was freezing) I disturbed a cluster of large yellow and black butterflies resting on the bank. Feet in stream, arms outstretched, head tipped back to the sun I was suddenly enveloped in a cloud of butterflies that circled around me for almost a minute.
Stress – gone.
Going to a place like this reminds me that life can be lovely, enjoying nature is free, and my worries are minor in the larger scheme of things. I encourage everyone to do the same. After an hour and a half of moving from rocky outcroppings, to freezing river (Where I considered skinny dipping for just a moment…maybe next time) back to warmer stream, I was feeling whole and optimistic again.
My challenge today is to try and hold onto that feeling as I am back at my desk and back to work. Wish me luck.
PS. Thanks for taking this picture Morgan.